I am a caretaker for an elderly family member (mother) plus I am juggling a relationship in which my partner feels slighted and resentful that we aren’t able to spend much time together due to me taking care of my family member 24/7, and also due to Covid. My partner doesn’t understand or cares not to try. well they say that they understand that my family member comes and the pandemic has limited interactions but they often express their unhappiness with the situation. Should I breakup with them because I believe that an achievable successful, prosperous relationship can happen still in the dynamic , and they’re unsure of it? I give up my moments of solitude and free time which may vary from a half an hour to an 2 hour each day to see them, but they feel it isn’t enough and are feeling unwanted and unsettled. Should I just not date anyone due to my situation, until it improves? Everyone that I’ve ever dated has had a problem with it. Maybe they just weren’t right for me? Can a successful relationship be achieved while being a caregiver?




If you are lucky enough to still have either of your parents through it is undebatably a form of personal sacrifice and a lot of work, at the same time it is both a blessing and an honor to be able to give back to a parent in appreciation for raising you and assisting in helping make you the person you are today.  This is also a time for you to have an extra opportunity to really listen and learn and here your parents stories about you, themselves, and the family you grew up in.  As children we are innocently selfish as we are simply young and learning about ourselves and our life.  As teens we tend to think we have life all figured out.  😆  

As adults we're often so easily preoccupied trying to make a living and often for many raising a family.  Eventually we too soon arrive into the later half of our lives and for most of us so many and for some those loved ones we so often took forgranted would always be there are now gone on ahead to our Creator or elsewhere depending what you believe.  

I would give any and all possessions I have in this world today for even just several more hours to be with my Grandparents, other relatives, and my Father again if not only to say thank you and express my love and appreciation ❤ for them even just one more time.  

Relationships between couples are a give and take, with compromise on both sides.  That said I don't think anyone who genuinely attempts to care for any loved one, especially our parents will ever regret later for being of service to them in their time of need both physically and emotionally as well.  One of the ten commandments is to honor our Father and Mother.  Though you may not be expected or required to assist, I think you have been doing what is right from within your inner spirit and following your own personal integrity in doing so.   

God bless to both you and your loving parent.  Obviously you are both such wonderful and special loving people!  

AARP Expert

Hi Sara,

You have an inspiring example with Amy, Bill and Rosemary, below. Let me just share my thoughts. This person you are involved already shows you disrespect for your choices. It sounds like you are doing all the work, the 'emotional labor' if you will, of keeping this person happy. And when you do make time to be with your person, they waste it by complaining that you don't give them MORE? Hm. Where do you get your social support? Whether you get it from this needy person or from other folks, friends, family, faith community, crochet club, bowling league, wherever, you need an outlet and support. Doesn't sound like you're getting much if any with then.



Agree! Difficult times to take care of elderly parents and having a new relationship in dating!


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AARP Expert

@SaraL137371 YES! It IS achievable. My boyfriend and I got through it. And I moved across the country to care for both of my parents. For about a decade we were very long distance (me in Phoenix, him in Baltimore). He stuck with me. I traveled east frequently for work and saw him when I did. He came out to AZ 2 - 3 times a year. He has been extremely supportive of my choice to care for my parents. He felt it was the right thing to do, and he couldn't move as he was a Capain in the Fire Dept and needed to keep working, also he helped his older Mom. 


It does take understanding and it does take shared values that what we are doing is important. I know there were times when he was unhappy and there was only so much of me to go around (always wished I could clone myself). But he never wavered in supporting what I was doing and being there for me when I was overwhelmed and exhausted. He did his best to get me away for a trip every year. 


I would say quality time was the key to our success - and text messaging! 🙂 He actually guest wrote a column for me in my AARP column - perhaps you'd like to read about it from his perspective. I can't seem to find the post online anymore, it was from 2014, but here is the text of it:


It’s Not Easy Being in a Relationship with a Caregiver


Editor’s note: We asked Bill Carter, the long-time companion of AARP's Caregiving Expert and blogger, Amy Goyer, to write about being in a long-distance relationship with a full-time caregiver.

My relationship with Amy began seven years ago. At the time she was a busy professional working in Washington, DC and her parents were enjoying their retirement in Phoenix. Our relationship was somewhat long distance from the beginning since I live in northern Maryland. However, we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and made it work. We lived close enough that we could make spontaneous plans.

I'll never forget the day that changed Amy's life and our relationship. We were in New Orleans for a rare vacation enjoying Jazz Fest. Amy got a call that drastically changed her work situation, and then I took a call from Amy's sister who said her mom was ill and hospitalized. At that time there was also increasing concern about her dad's cognitive abilities. Amy soon left for Arizona to help her parents, which quickly turned into her living in Arizona full time. For the past five years we see each other when Amy comes to DC for her work or I go to Arizona. It does make things difficult to say the least.

Amy jumped into caring for her parents with both feet while continuing to work full time. She takes great pride in her work and truly does her best to help other caregivers. This means that most of the time when I talk to Amy on the phone she is in her car going to or from her office, running errands or in the middle of caring for her parents. Our conversations are short and the distractions are numerous.

I travel to Arizona several times a year. The daily household activities in the Arizona home are frequently overwhelming for me. I never realized how little time there is for anything when you are a caregiver. Amy's parents are wonderful, engaging people, but they have needed assistance for every basic need. I frequently worry about the tremendous stress and strain on Amy as she tries to balance every aspect of her life.

Sadly, Amy's mother, Patricia, passed on in October. I wondered if this would lighten Amy's burden but it really seems to have added a new difficult dimension to her frenetic daily life. Her mother, Patricia, had many physical disabilities and had difficulty communicating from a stroke years ago, but she was Amy's rock. Now grieving affects our relationship, and in addition, her Dad, Robert, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, has had a downhill slide without his beloved wife.

I try to support Amy, as she has so much to juggle. When I visit her in Arizona, I spend a great deal of time fixing things around the house and helping out in the yard or taking walks with her Dad. We do our best to spend quality time together, since quantity just isn’t an option for us. We take at least one vacation together every year, and take shorter weekend trips or I travel with her when she goes on business trips. Texting has been a big help for us to stay in touch more regularly and we sometimes Skype.

The important thing is that we share the same values. I help my mother in Maryland also, and I support Amy’s choice to care for her parents when they need her the most. So, Amy and I stay together and I can't imagine life without her. I don't know what the future holds, but I'll soon be traveling to Arizona again to try to carve out some quality time with my busy caregiver.

Amy Goyer is AARP's Family, Caregiving & Multigenerational Issues Expert; she splits her time between Washington, D.C. and Phoenix, Ariz. where she is caregiving for her Dad who lives with her. She is the author of AARP’s Juggling Work and Caregiving. Follow Amy on Twitter @amygoyer and on Facebook.


Bronze Conversationalist

@agoyer  Three words of advice:   MARRY THIS GUY!   😁

AARP Expert

@RosemaryF433825  Ha! Well I would if he was willing! So far no proposals 🙂 

Bronze Conversationalist

IMO, and having LOTS of experience being a caretaker/caregiver to various members of my family either as co-caretaker or total caretaker, my answer to you is....

Yes!  A successful relationship can be achieved while being a caregiver with the kind of person who recognizes and appreciates that your family members 😊 must come first in your life.  


Hi Rosemary, Your words are so true.  When my mother needed me I was not there. The guilt I feel is palpable.  My spouse resented my one trip home per year.  And now I am his caregiver which keeps me from seeing any of my extended family.  His was a subtle form of emotional abuse using divide and conquer.  

AARP Expert

@df44968383 I'm so sorry to hear this. Unfortunately I do hear it a lot. It's so hard to be pulled in different directions and to have someone be so dependent upon you. I hope you are getting support right now from other family and friends - and I'm glad you're here! You might also want to check out our AARP Family Caregivers Discussion Group on Facebook. 🙂 

Bronze Conversationalist

Good Morning, df...

I was so sad to read your post.  I hope you will use the services of someone else at times so you may visit your friends and extended family.  It's just as important to care for yourself as well.   I care.


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