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Posted: November 25, 2004

Spousal Caregiving

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Bill Andrew

Carol and I have much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, 2004. We celebrated our 53rd Wedding Anniversary on August 22. I celebrated my 75th birthday in January and continue to be a 24/7 caregiver. Carol celebrated her 75th birthday in November and is ?holding her own? in the battle with Alzheimer?s disease. This column gives public acknowledgement and thanks to God, our family, and our friends for the blessings and support that Carol and I have received in the past as well as the continuing support that we will need in the difficult times ahead of us.

I thank God for the blessings and graces that He has provided for Carol and me as we make this "journey of faith" -- for that is what it really is! Without my personal faith in God, I could never provide the quality of care that Carol is now receiving. God is with us throughout this journey. Whenever I feel frustrated or impatient, I ask God to help me ? and He does! Prayer is the most powerful support that I could ask for to help Carol and me during this "slow journey to death."

I thank God for allowing Carol to "hold her own" and for "slowing down" the predicted onslaught of Alzheimer's disease. I attribute this apparent "holding action" to the therapeutic nutritional protocol we developed for Carol with the assistance of physicians, family, and friends, to the "tender loving care" that I am able to provide for Carol with patience (lots of patience), and to prayer (lots of prayer)!

I thank God for providing me with this opportunity to learn what His Mercy is all about. Being a 24/7 caregiver has forced me to admit to our mortality, both Carol's and mine. I have to acknowledge that Carol's time on this earth is limited because of the steady progression of the Alzheimer's disease, taking a little bit of capability away from her each day. Jesus said, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for those whom one loves" (John 15:13). And that describes the role of the 24/7 spousal caregiver who must literally support all of the needs of their loved one. I have effectively "laid down my life" for Carol while still trying to take care of my own personal needs.

I thank God for providing me with excellent physical, mental, and spiritual health so that I can provide Carol with a good quality of life in our own home, despite the steady progression of Alzheimer's. Taking care of Carol has become my life, lending "tender loving care" in every sense of the phrase. Of course, the "therapeutic nutritional protocol" that has evolved for both Carol and I has a lot to do with our respective health and wellness.

I thank God for our understanding and supportive immediate family, for our sons, their wives, and our grandson. While their homes in Connecticut and Mississippi are some distance from us in Winter Haven, Florida, the technological wonders of the telephone, computer, and Internet keep us in close contact. Their prayers and support are invaluable.

I thank God for our understanding and supportive extended family, for Carol's sisters and brother, their families, my sisters (one died in June), and their families. Again, while they are all up in Wisconsin and Illinois, we are in close contact and their prayers and support are also invaluable to Carol and me.

I thank God for our friends, both here in Florida and around the country, for their prayers and support. I especially thank our friends who have provided personal hands-on support by helping me in getting jobs done around the house and by sitting with Carol while I run errands, facilitate my Alzheimer?s support group, and conduct other caregiver activities.

I thank God for the assistance and support that Carol and I have received locally through Polk County Elderly Services Division and Good Shepherd Hospice. Carol was discharged from the Hospice in October since she was not deteriorating as fast as might have been expected ? thanks be to God.

I thank God for the many prayers that are being offered for both Carol and me. There is solace in knowing that many people are praying for us, even though we do not know who is praying for us or when that happens. Prayer is powerful. I should know since each day of my life is "prayer in action." And thanks be to God, both Carol and I are surviving the "slow death" of Alzheimer's disease one day at a time.

As a spousal caregiver, I am sure that you also have many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. Take the time to give thanks to God for His support during this time of ?trial and tribulation.? Take the time to thank everyone who has provided support for you and your spouse during the past year. Take the time to count your blessings during 2004, despite the many problems you have encountered. Remember, God is with you every step of this journey of faith!

WORDS TO CARE BY?

?I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart...?

Psalm 9:1


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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