Caring for couples

As a live-in carer, you will find that most placements are for single people, normally because one of the couple has passed away and the remaining person needs help.

Occasionally you will be asked to care for a couple. In fact, you may even prefer this. Many live-in carers enjoy working with two people. You will often find that one of the couple needs more attention and care than the other one. 

Positions like this may only change to a double carer position when the second person deteriorates and needs as much care.

So, let’s talk about some aspects of caring for couples.

Remember the primary client

There will most likely be one client who needs you more than the other. You should have been told this even before you accepted the placement so you will have a good idea of who your attention will be focused on.

You should make sure that you take into consideration their needs first. Arrange your cooking around them, cook meals that they can enjoy.

When going out be considerate about where they sit. Getting into the back seat of a car might be an almost impossible task. Choose your places carefully and be aware that while you and the other person may easily be able to walk, your primary client may not be able to do so. 

Remember the dress code

It is very important that you are aware that in caring for a married couple there may be feelings of jealousy. None of us enjoy the thought of a person of the opposite sex getting too close to our own husband, and your lady client may also not enjoy this.

Never dress in a provocative way because even though the lady in your care may have dementia or any other impediment, she may still be possessive of her husband. Seeing you in what she perceives as provocative clothing will make you her enemy in no time at all.

Additionally, while you may like to think that your elderly male client will not have ‘those feelings’ anymore, be aware that he may be more than capable of making advances because he perceives you are encouraging him!

Consider the green-eyed monster – jealousy

Spread your time evenly between the couple where possible. If your primary client is a lady, then make sure that you spend most of your time with her, even though you would enjoy the conversation and company of a less needy husband.

If your primary client is the lady then avoid overly long chatty periods with her husband until she is safely settled in bed. If she sees you as a threat, she has the power to make your life very unpleasant.

Be aware of private time

The couple you are caring for may have been married for fifty years or even more and it is worth remembering that they are used to having the other person around. They will have their own little habits and quirks.

They’ve possibly been sitting on that same old sofa for years, even if one of them falls asleep early while the other watches the news. 

They may still like to have a glass of wine each evening or turn the tv off right at 7.30 pm. Whatever their habits are, you should leave them as they are. Trying to change things that they value will result in an unpleasant atmosphere.

If all is well and your couple are happy, then give them their private time. Let them know that you are at hand if needed and take a break yourself.  

Final thoughts

It is important that people maintain their individual identity as they grow old, and as their carer, if you work with them to do this, rather than trying to change the habits of a lifetime, you may find that they enjoy having you with them.

By being sympathetic to their needs and their privacy you may find that the time spent with a couple is a very special time indeed.



Go Back to Previous Page