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Posted: March 31, 2005

Spousal Caregiving

A Caregiver's Prayer: Take Time ...

Bill Andrew As spousal caregivers, we generally don't find time to do the many things that we would like to do since our loved one's time demands exceed the time available to do those other things. I recently came across an article that puts "time" into perspective and thought that I would share it with you. Let me know what you think. Every day of my life as Carol's 24/7 caregiver is a prayer -- for her and for me. Each of the points below are an integral part of that prayer and focuses me to "take time."

"Take time to pray" -- it helps to bring God near to you and your loved one and washes the dust of earth from your eyes. As I have indicated in previous columns, prayer is the main source of my strength and sustenance as a spousal caregiver.

"Take time for friends" -- they can be the source of happiness and support for both you and your loved one. Encourage your friends to visit your loved one and to help you in areas in which you need assistance. Do not hesitate to ask them when you need them since they often will not volunteer to provide that assistance until they are asked. I know from personal experience and go out of my way to maintain our friendships.

"Take time to work" -- it is the price of success. Work can be an outlet for the many stresses that you incur as a spousal caregiver. Something as simple as housework or yard work -- or perhaps continuing your previous employment on some basis. I have many such work outlets that help me.

"Take time to think" -- it is the source of power. As a spousal caregiver, you must always be thinking. Thinking about your loved one, their disease, things that can help them, yourself, your health, and things that can help you. As human beings, God gave us an intellect and we should use that power to empower each of us as spousal caregivers for the benefit of our loved one. When I think about such things, it helps me to plan for Carol's care on a rationale basis.

"Take time to read" -- it is the foundation of knowledge. Read everything that you can about your loved one's disease or condition and alternative treatments to help them. Read everything that you can about caregiving so that you can do your job better. I try to read several hours every day.

"Take time to laugh and sing" -- laughing and singing releases stress and helps us as caregivers to cope with the heavy loads we each carry. Much has been written about the significant benefits of laughter and singing for both caregivers and their loved ones. Carol and I laugh and sing throughout the day -- in fact, she will have occasional belly-laughs when I say something or try to sing to her -- which releases her internal stress.

"Take time to love" -- it is the most important "sacrament" of life. As the old saying goes, "love makes the world go around." Love also makes the job of being a spousal caregiver more tolerable. The basic foundation for my role as Carol's 24/7 caregiver is my love for her and the commitment that goes with that love.

"Take time to dream" -- it hitches our souls to the stars. Dreaming and hoping seem to go hand in hand. We can hope for the best and can dream of what we could like to achieve as spousal caregivers. This includes "day" dreams as well as "sleep' dreams. Sometimes, I will just go outside for a little while and take in nature -- and perhaps "day" dream to relieve stress.

"Take time to play" -- it is the secret of youth. Every spousal caregiver needs to find time to "play" at whatever suits them. This could be sports, music, various types of games, the computer, etc. Whatever. Again, "play" can be an outlet for stress. It works for me and can work for you as well.

"Take time to worship" -- it is the highway to reverence. Worship may take the form of formal services or informal prayer at home. In either case, it puts you, as the spousal caregiver, into the proper frame of mind whereby you have reverence for your loved one. And this reverence will help you to achieve the level of patience required as a spousal caregiver. Again, it works for me and can work for you as well.

I would like to hear from you regarding your efforts to "take time" as you provide spousal care for your loved one. As always, your ideas and suggestions may help me and other readers of this column -- just as I hope that my "sharing" will help you. Drop me a line at ASKBill@caregivershome.com to share your ideas and suggestions. May God continue to bless you and your loved one.

WORDS TO CARE BY...

"Whoever flees prayer flees all that is good!"
(St. John of the Cross)


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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