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FCS Wellness Wednesday: Caregiving Changes Relationships

By Sophy Mott posted 02-12-2020 04:51 PM


FCSfit Wellness Wednesday:  Caregiving Changes Relationships

Ask anyone who is a caregiver, who has been a caregiver, or who needed a caregiver if caregiving changes relationships, and the answer is a resounding "Yes."

Caregiving changes relationships with our elder because what we are willing to do – or not do – for one another gets tested. The ways in which you support your loved one will increase. Shared interests and social outlets that bind your relationship together will be more difficult to do together.

Here’s an unspoken truth: no one warns you that caregiving impacts ALL your relationships. Suddenly, you are struggling to find the time to help your child with homework, to have a date night with your husband, to go out to the movies with friends, to get to the gym or take care of yourself in a way that brings you back to you.

The mistake we make is in not preparing for when (not if) you will become a caregiver. If you are picking up prescriptions for your elder while doing your own shopping, you are a caregiver. If you ask how book club or church or their best friend is doing and they have not been out of the house, you are about to become a caregiver. There are ways to control the impact caregiving has on your life, but it requires that you don’t ignore gut feelings.

This first ‘knowing’ is an opportunity to have meaningful discussions with your elder. Don’t start with the ‘You need to’ discussions like “You need to stop driving.” That will shut down the conversation quickly. Instead, start a conversation that focuses on the details of their social life and tasks that need to be done around their home. Use language that keeps the control with them and statements that do not shut the conversation down. 

Here are some examples of language and possible outcomes:

“Mom, when does your book club meet? Do you rotate where you get together? Do you drive alone or with someone else? I’m thinking about options if you’re too tired to drive but don’t want to miss out.” 

I would like to:

What is required for this activity?

Who can help us fulfill this wish list?

Attend book club second Wednesday of each month

Drive to a member’s house

Another book club member or Uber

“Dad, if you and mom were away and a pipe broke, who is your plumber? I want to make sure I call someone you trust if something happened.”

Account type


Account number

Phone number









These conversations allow you to plan together (go team!) for the resources and support they might need in the future. You can think about what your boundaries are now, and together find answers that keep you from being completely responsible for everything in their life.

Thanks to Debra Hallisey, who contributed this issue of FCSfit WW. A caregiving advocate, Debra blogs at and is the author of Your Caregiver Relationship Contract. You can connect with Debra on LinkedIn.