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Posted: February 17, 2005

Spousal Caregiving

Time-Tested Practical Tips for Spousal Caregivers

Bill Andrew

As a spousal caregiver, it is important to take care of yourself. If you don?t, who is going to take care of your spouse? In this column, I want to share with you a number of practical spousal caregiver tips I have learned and experienced over the past several years. They have helped me to be a better caregiver, and I hope that they will help you as well.

If you have any additional tips to share, please email me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com. Here we go:

  • Remember to be good to yourself. Love, honor, and value yourself. You are doing a very difficult job and you deserve some quality time for yourself -- just for you.
  • Respite care is the key to your survival as a caregiver. Establish relationships that will allow you to have that time to yourself on a regular basis. This can be in the form of an in-home companion for your loved one or placement in adult day care once or twice a week.
  • Choose to take charge of your life, and do not let your loved one?s illness or disability always take center stage. If possible, ?mainstream? your loved one by joining friends for dinner, going shopping together, taking leisurely drives around town, visiting various gardens and attractions that might be convenient for you, going to church on Sundays, and similar activities that get you both out of the house and relate to things you used to do together.
  • Watch out for signs of depression. Do not delay in getting professional help when you need it. Depression will occur, and it can be treated effectively.
  • When people offer to help, accept their offer and suggest specific things that they can do to help you -- sitting with your loved one, shopping or running errands for you, and similar activities that will relieve you of doing those things yourself.
  • Ask people for help -- they are often waiting to be asked. People ? family, friends, relatives, others -- will not typically offer to help routinely but will respond when asked for specific help.
  • Educate yourself about your loved one?s condition. Information is empowering. Many books are available on specific illnesses as are many websites -- learn, learn, learn.
  • There is a difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one?s independence as long as possible. Support groups can be a source of knowledge to help you in your specific environment.
  • Trust your instincts. Most of the time they will lead you in the right direction and help you to make the right decisions regarding the care of your loved one.
  • Grieve for your losses. Then, allow yourself to dream new dreams.
  • Stand up for your rights, both as a caregiver and as a citizen.
  • Stand up for your loved one?s rights, both as a patient and as a citizen.
  • Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength, solace, and empowerment in knowing that you are not alone. Help is available but for the asking.
  • Support groups can, and will, provide this support -- they are designed for this purpose. If you need to attend more than one support group a month, you should. Each support group is unique unto itself and you will obtain several perspectives to assist you in coping with your life as a caregiver for your loved one.
  • Above all, trust in God. Pray for your loved one and for yourself.

While all of the above are of value (and their value has been personally time-tested during my caregiving experience), there are several tips that are very important and continue to be emphasized in various studies conducted on family caregiving, among them these key points:

  • Educate yourself about your loved one?s condition.
  • Seek support from other caregivers through support groups.

I can not over-emphasize these two points. They have been my ?lifeline? and they can also be yours!

WORD TO CARE BY?

?Success is the ability to go from one failure

to another with no loss of enthusiasm.?

(Sir Winston Churchill)


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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© 2005 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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