My partner is caring for her mother and aunt. She told me that she feels like she's never off the work and caregiver treadmill. How can I help and support her?

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My partner lost her Dad last month and is now caring for her mother and an aunt. We're in our 50's, have no children, are employed and were just now beginning to have time and money to begin to travel and spend time with friends. I see that the demands placed on may partner are exhausting her, and I'm struggling with this because this responsibility was completely unexpected. Because we have no children, I feel the need to cultivate our chosen family--which we aren't doing because her family (which I love) needs so much time and attention. The sense of loss of freedom is so difficult. My partner tells me that she feels like she's never off the work/caregiver treadmill. What do I do? How do I help her?

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You are certainly in the right place...welcome. You will find an abundance of information here from experienced caregivers who are going through the same things.
Anyone who has not gone through direct caregiving would ever believe what a toll it takes on every aspect of your life. It is exhausting, frustrating, and not always rewarding....at least not at first.
In addition, your own life gets put on hold and it starts effecting your relationships, friendhships, and careers. Other family members "scatter" and it usually left up to the one who steps forward.
When you start this journey there is a tendency to become a "superperson" and try to do everything by yourself. My first suggestion is to gather all the human resources you can. Ask if anyone can help out for an hour one or two days a week. Do her family members belong to a church? Perhaps there are volunteers who can step in. Call on neighbors. Sometimes we think that people do not want to help when in reality they just need to be asked or feel included.
You did not mention where the Mom and aunt live? Do they live together? Do they live at their homes?
There may come a point when they need a new "venue" for both their health and well-being as well as yours. I landed in that spot after nearly 4yrs. of one-on-one caregiving and I began to see my life disappear. My hub is extremely patient and loves Mom, but our relationship comes first. (that's hard to remember when you are in the middle of chaos.)
Unfortunately, in this country, our medical and elder care services are not keeping pace with our growing need. So, I have not had the best luck trying to tap into "programs." However, if either elder is a veteran, or the spouse of a veteran, there are some funds that pay a family or paid caregiver. Does either have the assets to pay for some in-home care so that your partner can get a break? This has helped me tremendously and they only come in twice a week for personal care, housekeeping, or errands.
The last suggestion is to find a support group or creative outlet. If you focus all your time and energy in one stressful area then burnout is right around the corner. Come here often to ask questions or make observations. This forum has saved my sanity on many an occasion. With all that caregivers have to do, they still take the time to help others here. Amazing.
I hope this gives you a good start.

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