3. Practical advice and tips for carers > Psychological issues

Psychological issues

13) Relationships

Family sitting at a computer

Many of the things you may have to do as a carer could have an affect on relationships. Your relationship can be very rewarding when you are working together to help your loved one with their recovery. Illness can bring a family together in a common desire to help and support each other.

However you may have to take over tasks which the person can no longer do for themselves. Increased dependency can be a frightening prospect. Having to rely on someone close for physical help with washing and dressing can be embarrassing.

The balance of tasks within the partnership could be reversed for example, if one partner always deals with finances, banking and paying bills the other partner may never have had to cope with these tasks before.

If the person has a speech or communication problem the effect on the relationship can be dramatic. There may be frustration on both sides. Feeling that emotions cannot be expressed. (For more information see Topic 3: Practical advice and tips for carers – Communication strategies).

Sexual relationships may become strained and intimacy affected by physical disability. (For more information see Topic 6: Support for you as a carer – Intimacy and relationships).

You may be doing your best to help but the person may reject that assistance. If the person has problems with thinking and processing, it may be that they are more impatient or if they are dis-inhibited saying or doing things which may seem very out of character. The person’s relationships with other people may be affected if their ability to control their temper and actions have been changed by the stroke.

The person may feel as though they are going through a form of bereavement for their former self. This can happen over time as the reality of the situation changes. It can be difficult for you and them if depression is also affecting your relationship. Depression is common after stroke and can also affect stroke carers but is treatable. Seek advice from your doctor. (For more information please see Topic 6: Support for you as carer – Psychological support for anxiety and depression).