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Awareness of Your Spouse's Needs & Caring For One Another

Caring for one another as we age requires modifying and remaining aware of our spouse’s needs. It’s not always easy to admit our changing needs. Older bodies require extra attention, diets may have to be modified, and sleep patterns definitely become problematic for many couples. How can we stay tuned into the needs of our spouse while dealing with our own aging changes? As with most things marriage-related, communication is key. Communication and setting aside our pride. It can be difficult to admit we need help or can’t do something we used to do with vigor. Let’s walk through some considerations and conversations to have with the one we share our lives with.

Is there anything you’re struggling with that I can help with? This is a good opening question. No blame, no demeaning or embarrassing issues tossed out first. We can sit with our spouse over coffee and take stock of how things are going and where we might be able to help one another. This is a good first-level approach.

I’ve noticed ____, can I help you in any way? Here’s another question that is respectful of your spouse’s pride but soft shoes into what might be a tough conversation. My husband and I have had a couple of conversations along these lines with varying degrees of success. Both of us have been very independent and capable and it’s been hard to admit some things aren’t the same as they were when we were young, and they won’t ever be that way again. So far, if it got too touchy, we let the conversation drop and approached the issue again later.

Over the last two or three years, we’ve made adjustments to some routines and even furniture. For example, we bought a bed that allowed each of us to independently adjust the head and foot height to accommodate back aches and allergies. That small accommodation changed our sleeping routines and allowed both of us to get better rest. In other matters, like overseas travel, we’re discussing how to continue to do the things we enjoy but with somewhat different approaches based on changing health and physical abilities. The heavy-duty tours with hours of walking and bus rides may not be our first choice anymore.

Bottom line - it’s ok and necessary to make adjustments as we age.

What if our spouse has a need they won’t admit? This one is tough. In some cases, where others aren’t affected or endangered, it m