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Posted: December 02, 2004

Spousal Caregiving

A Prescription for Caregiving

Bill Andrew

The initial columns in this Spousal Caregiving series provided you with an introduction to my loved one, Carol, and to me as her caregiver. These columns were intended to provide you with the foundation of the "true love" and "total commitment" upon which my personal caregiving is based. In my opinion, all spousal caregivers must have that "true love" and "total commitment" if they are to survive their roles as caregivers while providing quality care for their loved one.

There is an old saying: ?love conquers all." In fact, many young couples have Bible readings at their weddings (perhaps you did) about the enduring power of love. I quote ? "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails?" (1 Cor 13:4-8), and "So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor 13:13).

By now, you are aware that "LOVE" is the centerpiece -- nay, the foundation -- of my caregiving role for Carol. When we made those wedding vows, many of us also said to each other "to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, til death do us part." It is my personal contention -- nay, my recommendation -- that unless your marriage has a solid foundation of "true love" and "total commitment,? both the loved one and the caregiver will suffer to some extent. Spousal caregiving is all about that "true love" and "total commitment," and the vows we made before God and each other many years ago. Without love, what is left?

The above is the basis for my personal "prescription? for caregiving. As primary caregiver for my wife, Carol, who has late-stage Alzheimer's disease, I have personally learned many caregiving lessons the hard way, that is, by making the mistakes one tends to make as one learns. While I have tried to learn from others, and have indeed learned from their mistakes, many times we have to make our own mistakes to make the lessons "stick." I know that I did.

During the more than 10 years of my 24/7 caregiving experience for my spouse of over 53 years, I have learned many lessons. I present the following practical points for your consideration. These represent the more important life experiences as a 24/7 spousal caregiver. There are many more practical points to ponder which can be developed through one's own personal caregiving experience.

  • Positive mental attitude. Despite the trials and tribulations of being a 24/7 spousal caregiver, it is vital that you have a positive mental attitude that is nurtured by constantly ?accentuating the positive.? That?s right, just like the old song.

  • Prayer. The importance and sustaining power of prayer, for both the loved one and the caregiver, can not be overestimated.

  • Patience. The key to successful caregiving for a loved one. The three basic principles of successful caregiving are patience, patience, patience!

  • Planning. You must have a plan in place for everything to be done and you must adhere to a designated schedule.

  • Perspective. Everything must be placed into the proper perspective. Remember, the reality of the loved one is not always our reality.

  • Praise. The "oil" that makes the world go around. Try it sometime.

  • Patter. Keeping up a "patter" of conversation keeps the loved one engaged and lets the loved one know what you are doing.

  • Proper-nutrition. Without proper nutrition, the loved one can go downhill fast. Obviously, this should be done with a physician's input and/or approval. This includes regular feeding times, significant hydration (water), liquid and chewable foods, high protein intake, essential fatty acids, and low levels of carbohydrates.

What is your take on the above practical points? Do some or all of them ring a bell with you? I will explore each of these in more detail in columns that will follow. But I?d like your help. Please let me know via email of your impressions and your suggestions. Through you and your experiences, I can communicate a ?total? message of spousal caregiving.


"I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me."

(Philippians 4:13)

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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