Rethinking Solo Caregiving For A Spouse

Solo caregiving for a spouse takes a toll on both parties. What starts out as act of compassion and loyalty can deteriorate into a role that exceeds the best efforts of one person. Unfortunately, the stress of day to day caregiving distorts a spouse’s perception about how far out of control the situation has drifted. Reframing the situation from a new vantage point can help with reassessing the complexity, burden, and support options. This is why we created the Spousal Care Mind Map.

(Click here to download a PDF version)

The Spousal Care Mind Map offers families a one-page diagram that identifies the scope of care, challenges and needs. Once completed, this assessment helps families in four ways:

It reduces the burden and risks of not knowing the big picture. The Spousal Care Mind Map provides everyone who is involved with the care of an aging parent with an up to date overview of the caregiving issues. Many times this information is fuzzy, incomplete or only known by a few.

It reduces the burden of caregiving handoffs. The Spousal Care Mind Map offers a quick reference guide for other family members who want to lend a hand with help at home, restocking supplies or other tasks. It is especially helpful for coordinating last minute change of plans.

It reduces the burden of integrating caregiving information. The Spousal Care Mind Map serves as an information hub for sending updates to the entire caregiving team.

It reduces the burden of orchestrating a crisis. The Spousal Care Mind Map becomes an invaluable resource for coordinating a response to a significant change in health.

How to use the Spousal Care Mind Map

Set up a map for an aging couple. Provide copies to other family members and ask for comments and revisions.

Use the map as a prompt for conversations with the aging couple about their situation. What’s working? What areas indicate a potential loss of control? How can these areas be improved? What are the possible tradeoffs (i.e. in home care) that would preserve long term control?

Fax or email a copy of the Spousal Care Mind Map to all providers on the healthcare team. The document will become part of the aging parent’s medical file and indicate your interest in supporting the integration of health information.

Update the map every time there is a significant change in health or caregiving responsibilities.