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Posted: February 24, 2005

Spousal Caregiving

A Day in the Life of a Spousal Caregiver

Bill Andrew

I am often asked the question ?what do you do all day for Carol? as a spousal caregiver ? and my answer is always the same: ?everything!? In order to put some perspective into where I am coming from as a spousal caregiver writing this column, I thought it appropriate to provide you with some insight into ?a day in the life of a spousal caregiver? from my personal perspective.

Your days may not follow my pattern because you are dealing with your own unique situation. Keep in mind that my spouse, Carol, has late-stage Alzheimer?s disease and is totally dependent upon me for everything. However, depending upon the nature and progression of your spouse?s illness, I would be willing to bet that your day ? husband or wife ? is quite similar in many respects.

Our ideal typical day goes something like that described below with occasional variations depending on the day of the week and various scheduled appointments. Throughout the day, I continuously interact with Carol ? talking with her, asking her questions, being in the same room with her, etc. Obviously, Carol?s caregiving activities totally occupy my time ? toileting, bathing, feeding, etc.

  • 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ? Awake. Assist Carol with toileting. Give her a sponge bath. Give her water to drink. Get her dressed. Turn on music. During this hour, I find time for coffee and take care of my personal needs.
  • 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ? We watch TV (religious). Give Carol orange juice and she eats an organic food bar with NADH. During this hour, I finish my personal needs and have breakfast.
  • 8 a.m.-9 a.m. ? More TV (religious). Carol watches and listens. She?s often quiet. During this hour, I perform my daily household duties.
  • 9 a.m.-10 a.m. ? Carol listens to music and often dozes. She has V8 juice with supplements. During this hour, I work on the computer or prepare her health drink and other related nutritional requirements.
  • 10 a.m.-11 a.m. ? More music, and Carol often dozes. This is Carol?s quiet time. I give her a glyconutritional drink. During this hour, I work on the computer, read, or work in the yard.
  • 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ? Carol is occupied with either music or TV (religious). I give her more water. I assist with her toileting. During this hour, I also complete unfinished household duties and get ready for lunch.
  • 12 p.m.-1 p.m. ? Again it?s TV (religious). Carol receives a mashed banana with L-tryptophan. Perhaps some fruit as well. During this hour, I also have lunch and read if I have time.
  • 1 p.m.-2 p.m. ? Music is playing, and Carol has more water. She dozes. I again assist with her toileting. During this hour, I generally work on the computer (an outlet for me).
  • 2 p.m.-3 p.m. ? Like the previous hour, music and dozing. Meanwhile, during this hour, I catch up on whatever did not get done earlier.
  • 3 p.m.-4 p.m. ? Carol has raisin bread toast with peanut butter while listening to music in our home. And during this hour, I do whatever has to be done.
  • 4 p.m.-5 p.m. ? Listening to music, Carol gets more water (must keep her hydrated). During this hour, I start dinner.
  • 5 p.m.-6 p.m. ? Carol watches TV and has another glyconutritional drink. She?s generally very quiet but alert at this time. I eat dinner and start cleaning up.
  • 6 p.m.-7 p.m. ? It?s time for Carol to have juice with melatonin. I spend time getting her ready for bed and assist with her toileting. I help her comfortably into bed. She?s generally tired and asleep before long.
  • 7 p.m.-8 p.m. ? By now, Carol is in bed and usually asleep. I spend this time reading, spend time on the computer, and generally catch up on whatever still needs to be done for that day. Then I start getting ready to start the same routine all over again tomorrow.

As you can see, we have a very full, 14-hour day ? as care-recipient and caregiver. The key to my success as a caregiver ? and to Carol?s success in ?holding her own? ? is scheduling a daily routine and trying to keep Carol in that routine. This routine provides for her ongoing hydration and nutritional requirements as well as significant interaction with me and others who visit.

Much of what I do each day as a spousal caregiver for Carol was described in my December 2, 2004, column ?A Prescription for Caregiving.? The routine described above is an integral component of the ?planning? activity ingredient of this ?prescription? ? ?you must have a plan in place for everything to be done and you must adhere to a designated schedule? (routine).

Of course, there are exceptions to every routine. We go to church on Sundays, keep doctor?s appointments, appreciate respite and homemaking services for Carol and me, and attend various meetings and events, as well as other activities that may interfere with our daily routine. While these activities can be disruptive, I make every effort to ?catch up? later in the day or in the days thereafter. As a general rule, I am able to maintain the ?status quo? throughout the week. This routine has helped Carol to ?hold her own? in her battle with Alzheimer?s and me to continue to provide quality spousal care for Carol.

I would like to hear from you regarding your efforts to provide quality spousal care for your loved one. Your ideas may help me and other readers of this column ? just as I hope that my ?sharing? will help you. Drop me a line at to share your ideas. May God bless you and your loved one.

?See everything, say little, do much!?

(Author Unknown)

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

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© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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