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Posted: December 16, 2004

Spousal Caregiving


Bill Andrew

This column is adapted from a sermon I heard recently. I thought it really addressed the role of the spousal caregiver -- loving is giving?giving is loving -- and isn't that what all dedicated family caregivers do? Because we have great love for our spouse, we have great capacity to give (even if we don?t always realize it). And because we have great capacity to give, we have great love for our spouse. This is written from the perspective of a caregiver for a spouse with late-stage Alzheimer's disease.

  1. For-giving. We must be forgiving as caregivers, especially if our spouse has some form of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease. Remember, their reality is not our reality. To quote Jesus Christ as He was dying on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Forgiveness is an obvious expression of true love.

  1. Giving-in. We must often "give-in" as caregivers and "go with the flow" as dictated by our spouse. Giving-in is not always easy. In fact, it can be very difficult, just ask any dedicated caregiver! This is just one more way of proving our love for our spouse. They are the very reason that we are caregivers -- giving of our love.

  1. Giving-up. As caregivers, we must be willing to give up much of our own personal lives in order to provide the quality care required for our spouse. This giving-up is often undertaken at great personal sacrifice -- our time, our careers, our finances, our friends. This is true love in the highest sense of the word "love," giving-up almost everything for the benefit of our spouse, agape love.

  1. Giving-away. As dedicated caregivers, we have already "given-away" much for the benefit of our spouse. In fact, the very term caregiver defines our act of love. We are constantly "giving-away," thus, we are constantly expressing our love for our spouse.

  1. Alms-giving. In the every sense of the word, caregivers are also "almsgivers" since we are giving of our time, talent, and treasure for the benefit of our spouse. While this is not the generally accepted use of the term, it is a practical application of the term for the caregiver: we are almsgivers for our spouses. The root of the word "alms" is "mercy" or "pity," thus, a sense of compassion is included in any almsgiving effort.

  1. Thanks-giving. Caregivers should be thankful for the opportunity to demonstrate their love for their spouses ("Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friend [spouse])." Our "thanksgiving" should take the form of prayer to God for giving us the opportunity to show our spouses the greatest form of love, agape love.

  1. Life-giving. Human life is the great expression of the love of God. We are made in the image and likeness of God. From our birth until our death, our society makes every effort to sustain life. As caregivers, our goal is to provide a quality lifestyle for our spouses to the best of our respective abilities. We are literally giving life to our spouses through our efforts, all in the name of love.

  1. Self-giving. Caregivers should give serious thought to taking good care of themselves, much as they give serious thought to taking good care of their spouses. In our giving to our spouses, God does not want us to be self-destructive, which can happen very easily if the caregiver gives so much that it hurts, literally. If a spousal caregiver diminishes or loses the capacity to give, who will take care of their spouse?

A spousal caregiver must have the patience of Job ? and must have a great love of God. Our love for our spouse is expressed through our patience. And the glue that holds this all together is the love of God and the power of prayer. For me, none of the above would be attainable without the power of prayer, the power of giving, and the power of love. Remember, God is always with us; ask Him for help when you need it!

As spousal caregivers, we all need God's grace in order to provide quality care for our spouses. God is full of loving kindness and mercy, especially knowing the strain and stress spousal caregivers endure. As spousal caregivers, we are constantly giving for the benefit of our spouses, and we are also constantly loving those spouses.


Loving is giving?giving is loving?only stop giving when God stops giving to you!

(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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