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Posted: March 20, 2008

Spousal Caregiving

I'm Glad We Can Help at Least a Bit

Bill Andrew

It has been a while since I opened my e-mail bag and responded to some of your questions, so I thought this would be a good time to do so. Hopefully, you hadn’t given up on me -- but as spousal family caregivers know, you can understand where my priorities lie. Here goes . . .

___

Hi Bill:

I am not in the same situation as you. However, my husband retired due to heart problems at age 63. I now work two jobs to take care of expenses. My question: how do I maintain the energy, patience, and love to continue to work six days a week and still give my husband what he needs. He is not helpless but gets very short of breath, so he is limited as to what activities he can do.

I must say, you are one of the Lord's angels on earth. Your wife is truly blessed to have you. I just hope that you have the support that you need through each day. Your column is wonderful! Are you a full-time writer?

Your words of wisdom provide comfort for many who are traveling through the caregiver's role in life. Thank you for your articles on spousal caregiving. They are marvelous.

Cheryl B., Davidson, NC

Dear Cheryl:

Thank you for your kind remarks. I think that the answer to your query is that love and commitment are what keep both you and I going despite the many trials and tribulations that we experience as spousal caregivers.

No -- I am not a full-time writer. I am a retired engineer who wants to share his life experiences as a spousal caregiver with others who need that knowledge.

Of course, what I am going through is not easy -- but then, who said that life was going to be easy, a "bowl of cherries" as it were? "Into each life some rain must fall" could be the mantra for family caregivers. What we give, we receive back many times over. And isn't that what rain does for life? What would we do without water? God bless.

_____

Dear Bill:

Thank you so much for your beautiful articles. I am the caregiver for my dear husband who has had Parkinson's disease for about 10 years. He is wheelchair-bound but is able to walk with a walker from our bedroom to the bathroom. I am always with him when he's using the walker because he is so afraid of falling. I'm very happy that I am in such good health because sometimes, taking care of him requires so much strength.

We have been married for almost 58 years and he is still my best friend. Lately, I have noticed that his memory is not as good as it used to be, and it is breaking my heart. I read the other day that any brain disorder, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, is manifested in memory problems. That has helped me to better understand what is going on.

I have learned that prayer and taking each day as it comes helps a lot. I also know that God will not give me more than I can handle -- however, I have asked Him to "lighten up a bit," though -- ha ha! I have also found that laughter helps me deal with the stress of being a spousal caregiver.

I know that some of the things my husband says to me are because he does not enjoy life as much as he used to. I am so happy that I found the Caregiver's Home website -- sometimes, you just need to see what other caregivers are doing to help each other.

God bless everyone! Thank for listening.

Mary Anne J., Lexington, SC

Dear Mary Anne:

Again, thanks for the kind remarks about my articles. I am sure that when you talk about "physical" strength to assist your husband, you must also have "spiritual," "mental," and "emotional" strength as well -- at least, that is what I perceive from your message.

Regarding the memory issues, some, but not all, Parkinson's patients experience memory and related dementia problems (at least, that is what I have been told). I have had Parkinson’s caregivers in my Alzheimer's support group for that very reason.

Certainly, prayer is a mainstay in your life. Regarding your comment about asking God to "lighten up a bit," I am reminded of something Blessed Mother Teresa said, words to the effect that "God will not give me anything that I can't handle . . . I just wish he didn't trust me so much!"

You are so right about the value of humor and laughter. They do relieve the stresses and strains that can lead to depression and other complications. It has been said that "laughter is the best medicine," and I believe it.

I'm glad that you found our website and hope that you visit many times. Be sure and tell your friends, because there is much to be found here that will help you and other caregivers in traveling this rocky road of being a family caregiver. God bless.

_____

Well, that's it for today. Please e-mail me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com with your comments and/or reactions. I will include them in a future column with your permission. Provide your full name and address. In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state. Thank you.

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Abraham Lincoln (1809-65)


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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