Cathy Rosch’s relationship with her husband, George, shifted when he suffered a traumatic brain injury and she became his caregiver. She’s learned some valuable lessons about adjusting to change in their relationship.
Here are Cathy’s seven tips for other couples facing similar situations.
1. Make the best of the situation.
From what I learned about brain injuries, personality changes are a big thing. He could have either turned into this wild man or this very insecure person with childlike emotions. And he got the childlike emotions. I remember thinking that one was the better of the two if I had to make a choice.
2. Help your partner—and others—understand their new limits.
He threw a temper tantrum in our doctor’s office, and we all knew what was going on, but I was so embarrassed. Yet, I knew he couldn’t help it. They wanted more from him than what he could give.
3. Seek champions to support your spouse.
He had one therapist he really kind of grasped onto and felt very secure with. During his progress meetings, he had to make sure I was on one side of him and Linda was on the other side. Then he could proceed.
4. Express frustration, but not out loud.
I can’t tell you how many times at night we go through what’s going to be on TV. And sometimes it’s again within 10 seconds. And I just want to go ‘Really? You’re just pulling my leg; I know you are because we just talked about this.’ But I can’t say that to him. That’s just not right, but I’m thinking it. I can think a lot of things, but my actions have to be different.
5. Wander between worlds if needed, but with support.
We went through a time where he was pulling away from me. We saw a therapist, and I said, ‘He is in a totally different world now.’ I had to either learn how to live in his world or live in my own world.
6. Let go of the past.
We moved into a place where it’s easier for George to be independent and do some of the things he likes. In doing that, we left some bad past experiences behind.
7. Find release in your other roles.
For me, work became a separate entity. I used to feel so guilty about that, but it was my way of letting my stress out. With respite care services, I knew I could go to work and know that George was OK while I was gone, which gave me peace of mind.
Services from the Good Samaritan Society
When your loved one experiences a sudden health issue, options can feel overwhelming. From assisted living to long-term care and in-home options for support, the Good Samaritan Society offers a multitude of services that can help.
Not sure where to start? Respite care at the Good Samaritan Society provides your loved one with 24-hour support during a short-term stay and allows you the time and space to plan next steps. No matter how much assistance your loved one may need, many of our communities provide a variety of caregiver support services.
Get support when the health of your spouse changes.
Not sure what to do?