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From Sage for Aging

Caregiving responsibilities often alter close family relationships in important ways. There are hidden costs to caregiving. Illness or disability can disrupt family patterns and can often result in the loss of sexual and emotional intimacies once previously enjoyed.

Important Principles to Remember

  • The roles of family caregivers are altered.
  • For most of us, work and independence are the foundation of our self-esteem. For most individuals with chronic illness who are in need of intimate care, self-esteem suffers greatly.
  • Not only does the caregiver take on added roles in the family, but they are also confronted with troubling new perspectives on those for whom they provide care. At times changes can be profound.
  • Sexual and emotional intimacy gets lost in many caregiving situations. This is not uncommon.
  • Givers and receivers of care alike need the emotional support that comes from hugging, touching, holding, and kissing. Everyone suffers when this sort of intimacy is lost.
  • A touch can convey compassion, not just sexual interest. Touch can also convey reassurance, safety, or relaxation, among other things.

The Power of Touch and Intimacy

  • Touch establishes connection between partners and eliminates the perception that the recipient of care is untouchable.
  • Caregivers have a great opportunity to enhance the well-being of their loved ones by being more conscious of the power that they hold in their fingertips.