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Posted: March 17, 2005

Spousal Caregiving

Spousal Caregivers Are Actually Spousal ?Care Managers?

Bill Andrew

Have you ever thought of yourself as a spousal ?care manager?? You are, even though you may not have thought of yourself as such!

Rather than try to do everything themselves, most spousal caregivers ? indeed, most family caregivers ? of a loved one eventually learn to become successful ?care managers.? That is, they take advantage of services offered by their family members, friends, and the community. Those who do not delegate various caregiving tasks or take time for themselves often suffer burn out or extreme stress, and become ill themselves ? and then they need caregiving and assistance. Now who takes care of the loved one?

Bill and Lyn Roche, Avon Park, Florida, have written extensively on this subject as well as on caregiving in general. They provide caregiving guidance and presentations to service organizations, support groups, and churches throughout the country. In addition, they facilitate a support group for Alzheimer?s caregivers. Their most recent publication is Sharing the Care: When Someone You Love Resides in an Adult Care Facility. Their knowledge and expertise comes from real-life caregiving experiences for family members. For more information on Bill and Lyn, as well as this book, you can visit their website.

What Bill and Lyn share with us from a family caregiving perspective is directly applicable to all of us who are spousal caregivers. They define a primary caregiver (you) as ?the spouse?of a loved one needing help with the activities of daily living. He or she makes the important decisions regarding the care, is generally closest to the care recipient, and therefore knows the care recipient the best.? Does that sound like you? Does that make you the ?care manager? for your spouse? It makes me one for my wife, Carol.

Bill and Lyn provide the following suggestions for your consideration. Have you been given the full durable power of attorney for your spouse? Have you been named in your spouse?s healthcare directive as the one to make decisions if your spouse is unable to do so? Are you the primary advocate for your loved one? Do you coordinate your spouse?s activities of daily living? Do you coordinate your spouse?s medical and other related appointments? Do you coordinate the local community services provided for your spouse ? home companions, in-home healthcare, housekeeping, respite care, adult day care, etc.? All of these spousal support activities qualify you as a ?care manager.?

Equally important is responding to friends and/or family members who say ?just let us know if we can do something.? This may be difficult at first but spousal caregivers must learn how to best utilize these offers. Be specific. Identify the need you have and ask the person offering assistance to be honest with you ? do they feel comfortable and capable of helping you in that area? For example, if you want someone to sit with your spouse while you run errands or shop, it is a good idea to spend some time together beforehand ? the helper, you, and your spouse. This will provide the opportunity for the two of them to get comfortable with one another while you are there and you can observe the chemistry between them.

You may also need someone to do household repairs and chores that you just don?t have time for. Don?t be embarrassed to ask a friend or family member to take over some of those repairs or chores. Your church may also be a good resource for such assistance ? youth groups are often available for outdoor projects such as cutting the grass or weeding as service projects. It is also a good idea to keep a log of the help being rendered so that you know who to call next time ? or who not to call.

Another point that Bill and Lyn make is that many primary (spousal) caregivers have told them that they often lose friends during the ?caregiving journey.? Or if they don?t lose their friends, they do not see them as often or they don?t ?drop in? for a visit like they used to. Has this happened to you? It has to me. Bill and Lyn believe that people really want to help but just don?t know how to do so. As your spouse?s ?care manager,? it behooves you to check out all of the resources that are available to assist you in your caregiving journey.

As the 24/7 caregiver for my wife, Carol, who has late stage Alzheimer?s disease, I can attest to the value of having such resources to help you as a spousal caregiver ? or spousal care manager ? get through the many trials and tribulations one encounters while providing care for a loved one. Many of the problems encountered in an adult care facility ? the focus of the aforementioned book ? are identical to those in your home environment. Many of the suggested remedies suggested in Sharing the Care can be applied in your home environment. I know ? I have tried many of them and they work!

If you relate to the above discussion and would like to share your personal caregiving experiences, I would love to hear from you at May God continue to bless you and your loved one.


?Only he will receive, will find, and will enter

who perseveres in asking, in seeking, and in knocking?

(St. Louis de Montfort)

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.
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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