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Posted: August 23, 2007

Spousal Caregiving

The Long Journey of Caregiving

Bill Andrew

As caregivers, we all find ourselves on a long journey -- journeys of love, journeys of faith, journeys of compassion, journeys of commitment. How long this journey will take depends upon the illness or disability of our loved one. It also depends upon the ability of the caregiver to deliver quality care for their loved one and that caregiver's "staying power." Let me tell you about my long journey of caregiving for my spouse, Carol.

As I write this on August 22, 2007, Carol and I are celebrating our 56th wedding anniversary. This also marks the 13th anniversary of my being a caregiver for Carol since the so-called "target event" gave the first indications of Alzheimer's disease. During these 13 years, Carol and I have been through all of the stages of Alzheimer's disease and are now in the final stages. That means that I have learned a lot of lessons -- most the hard way -- and must now prepare for the "final lesson." God willing, that will not be soon -- and the journey continues!

Like most of you, I did not volunteer for this journey; it volunteered me because I love my wife with all my heart and soul. I have declared that love and my commitment to her care and support in previous columns in this space. And on this, our 56th wedding anniversary, I once again declare my undying love for Carol and my commitment to provide ongoing 24/7 care for her as long as I am able.

Love is the greatest gift one person can give another. As spousal caregivers, the greatest gift we can give our spouse is our love; everything we do for our spouse is done with great love. Because we have great love for our spouse, we have great capacity to give. And because we have great capacity to give, we have great love for our spouse. Thus, "loving is giving and giving is loving." And as spousal caregivers, we "give" a lot -- every day -- with "great love!"

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians provides us with the best-known definition of love (remember your wedding service?):

 

"Love is patient,

love is kind.

It is not jealous,

it is not pompous,

it is not inflated,

it is not rude,

it does not seek its own interests,

it is not quick-tempered,

it does not brood over injury,

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things,

believes all things,

hopes all things,

endures all things.

Love never fails…" ( 1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Paul also says in Ephesians 5:31, "For this reason, a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

I don’t know about you, but I carry these words in my heart. In fact, they can be considered a "caregiver's prayer" -- especially those last words "love never fails." I can say without reservation that I have encountered and addressed all of those items listed above. They are what keep me going as a spousal caregiver. As the spousal caregiver for my wife, I am committed to seeing my caregiving role through to the very end "until death do us part." As St. Paul says in Ephesians 5:2, "…walk in love…" on this long journey.

How am I able to address all of the above issues? I do it through my faith and prayers with my belief in a God who watches over all of us and helps us when we ask for help. According to John, "Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8) and "God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him" (1 John 4:16). If God is love and I have great love for my spouse, Carol, then God is with Carol and me as we travel this "journey" called Alzheimer's disease together. In my humble opinion, love and prayer go hand in hand and are the foundation for my ability to continue to provide 24/7 care for Carol during this long journey, which I have come to believe is a journey of love and faith.

As I have said before, this caregiving journey -- while it may be extremely difficult and long -- has provided me with some of the most rewarding and fulfilling days of my life. While I have many happy memories of the 56 years that we have been married, these latter caregiving days will remain embedded in my "memory bank" forever. I thank God for these past 56 years with Carol -- and I look forward to many more.

Hopefully, you, the readers of this column, can relate to how I feel. I would like to hear your stories of love and commitment as you travel your own personal difficult long journeys with your spouses. If you would like to share those stories with other readers, please e-mail me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com. I will include your stories in a future column to provide inspiration to other spousal caregivers. Please provide your full name and address. In the column, I will only use your first name and the last initial of your last name as well as your city and state. Thank you.

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

"…walk in love…"

Ephesians 5:2


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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© 2007 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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