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Posted: April 05, 2007

Spousal Caregiving

Readers React to Previous Columns

Bill Andrew

Occasionally, I will get responses to a specific column that has struck the "hot button" of readers. That is what has happened in response to Positive Mental Attitude Key to Caregiver Success. Actually, the column A Daughter's Testimony: Power of Positive Mental Attitude was the first "hot button" response which in turn triggered this response from Sylvia.

Dear Bill,

The letter from Pat (March 15, 2007) was very inspiring. It helps me with a decision I must make very soon that concerns my husband, Edward.

Ed is presently confined to a "geri chair" in a nursing home and his name is approaching the top of the list about possible home assisted living care. He will be 92 in about two months. I will be 79 on Easter Sunday. However, I have no idea about what is involved in home care. I do know that I would do my best in caring for Edward while in his declining dementia years. Until his bout with UTI (urinary tract infection) and mobility problems, we spent time riding in the car and eating out. I would like to do that again if at all possible -- at least some of the time.

There are many questions that I need to have answered and when I saw your column tonight, it was like a breath of fresh air. I guess this is all I can say for now. I hope that with more information and some contemplation, I will find the help that I need at this time.

Thanks for caring.

Sylvia S., Wausau, Wisconsin

Thank you, Sylvia. I am pleased that my words are not the only words that help the readers of this column. Obviously, Pat's letter of response was something that hit your "hot button" and helped you to resolve some of the problems that you and Edward are facing with your family. Hopefully, other spousal caregivers will also be helped by your testimony.

_____

Robert is another spousal caregiver who appreciates this column and writes as follows:

Good evening Bill,

I enjoy reading your caregiver's report. My wife had a stroke in 2003 which left her blind. Except for an aide who comes in a few hours each day, I am her sole caregiver. I do not receive any help from any family member. I had throat cancer in 1998 and lost my voice. It is hard to accept the fact that our kids don't come around much anymore.

It seems like everything in this week's column is what I am going through. It really gets hard sometimes. I am 65 years old and my wife is 60. It is hard watching my wife sit and cry because her kids won't come to see her -- even after they promise her that they would. You are right -- I am tired and worn out. I have to take Zoloft to keep my sanity. But maybe, one of these days, these kids will wake up before it is too late.

Thanks for your supportive columns.

Robert A., Grafton, West Virginia

Thank you, Robert. I am glad my columns are reaching spousal caregivers such as yourself. We all need the support of family and friends -- but often, that does not happen. I wrote a column Where Have All My Friends Gone? that describes the exact situation you and your wife are experiencing. Family and friends tend to shy away from having anything to do with those of us providing care for a loved one. Perhaps it is ignorance. Perhaps it is fear. Perhaps it is denial. Perhaps it is all of this. In any event, it is difficult for both the spousal caregiver and their spouse to have to deal with family and friends who do not have the compassion to provide support for their loved ones.

_____

Both Sylvia and Robert are experiencing what many other spousal caregivers are experiencing as they deal with their spouses' illness or disability. I have personally experienced much of what I write about in this column. As my wife, Carol's, Alzheimer's disease progresses, it gets very difficult to continue to provide the quality care that she deserves -- and that I am committed to provide. Both Sylvia and Robert have that same commitment.

My personal solution to this problem is prayer. The importance and sustaining power of prayer -- for both the loved one and for the caregiver -- can not be overestimated. Prayer has been the "weapon of choice" that feeds the "staying power" I experience as I continue my caregiving journey with Carol. Prayer is the most important component of my caregiving strategy for Carol and the number one guiding principle on this "journey of faith." This is especially appropriate as I write this on Holy Thursday of Holy Week 2007.

If you have any comments or thoughts about the above, drop me a line at ASKBill@caregivershome.com and I will share them with other readers in a future column.

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

"Pray, hope, and don't worry."

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) (1887-1968)


Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at ASKBill@caregivershome.com.

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