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Caregiving for Aging Parents Strains Baby Boomer Marriages

For many boomer couples, caregiving undermines romance and their relationships

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Woman giving hug to elderly woman
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Eighty percent of baby boomers who are caring for an aging parent say that it has put a strain on their marriage, according to an online survey conducted by Caring.com to measure the effects of caregiving on relationships between spouses or partners.

Nearly half of the boomers who completed the survey reported strains on their marriage or committed relationship due to the time, energy and money that they and/or their spouses spend caring for an aging parent. More than a third said caregiving had a negative impact on their sexual relationship, while 25 percent of the divorced boomers who responded to the survey said that caregiving had played a significant role in their divorce or separation.

Caregiving Can Be Exhausting
Caregiving can be both physically and emotionally exhausting, and often requires couples to invest more time and money than they can easily manage. In addition, many of the baby boomers who took the survey are members of the so-called "sandwich generation," who are trying to juggle the competing demands of work, children and aging parents.

According to the survey results, there are three factors that put caregivers at the highest risk for strained marriages or relationships:

  • Holding down a job in addition to caregiving
  • Providing financial assistance to an aging parent or relative
  • Caring for an aging parent or relative in their home
In other survey results:
  • 89 percent of the respondents said that caring for an aging parent forced them to spend less time with their spouse
  • 48 percent said caregiving was causing them to “drift apart” and to feel less connected and attached to their partner
The News About Caregiving Isn’t All Bad
If a couple makes special efforts to care for each other, caregiving doesn't have to be as much of a burden--and may even make their relationship stronger.

Many survey respondents said the support, understanding and inspiration they received from their spouse while caring for an aging parent helped them cope with the pressures and demands of caregiving. One important factor in a positive caregiving experience is maintaining hope--for caregivers and the people they care for.

Other respondents said that sharing the caregiving experience actually strengthened their marriage and helped them grow as a couple.

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