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Posted: August 31, 2006

Spousal Caregiving

Caring for Carol -- a Journey of Love

Bill Andrew

Just last week, on August 22, my wife, Carol, and I celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary. That alone would be considered quite an accomplishment by many. But what makes this anniversary even more special is that it also marks the 12th anniversary -- 12 years -- of being her round-the-clock caregiver.

Carol has late-stage Alzheimer's disease and is totally dependent upon me for all of her activities of daily living (ADLs) and her institutional activities of daily living (IADLs). ADLs refer to the basic tasks of everyday life such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring. IADLs refer to activities related to independent living including preparing meals, managing money, shopping for groceries and personal items, performing light or heavy housework, and using a telephone. Like many of you, I do it all!

I do it all because I love my wife, my spouse, with all my heart and soul. I have declared that love -- and my commitment to her care and support -- in past columns. On the occasion of this 55th wedding anniversary, I would like to share more about my undying love for Carol and my commitment to providing ongoing 24/7 care for her as long as I am able.

Love is the greatest gift one person can give to another. As caregivers, the greatest gift we can give to our spouse is our love -- everything that we do for our spouse is done with great love. Because we have great love for our spouse, we have a great capacity to give. And because we have great capacity to give, we have great love for our spouse. Thus, "loving is giving and giving is loving." And as spousal caregivers, we "give" a lot every day -- with great love!

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians provides us with the best-known definition of love (do you remember this from your wedding service?): 

"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 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Paul also says in Ephesians 5:31, "For this reason, a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

I don’t know about you, but I carry these words in my heart. I can say without reservation that I have encountered and addressed all of the items listed above. They are what keep me going as a caregiver. As the caregiver for my wife, I am committed to seeing my caregiving role through to the very end -- "until death do us part."

How am I able to address all of the above issues? I do it through my faith and prayer -- my belief in a God who watches over all of us and helps us when we ask for help. According to John, who said it so beautifully, "Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8) and "God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him" (1 John 4:16). If God is love, and if I have great love for my spouse, then God is with Carol and me as we travel this "journey" called Alzheimer's disease together.

I have written columns in the past about love in What Is True Love? and I'll Be Loving You, Always . . . I also have written about prayer in the past with In Caregiving, It's Pray, Hope -- And Don't Worry! and A Thanksgiving Day Prayer. Other columns over the past two years also reflect my trust in love and prayer to get both Carol and me through this time of trial and tribulation. In my humble opinion, love and prayer go hand in hand and are the foundation for my ability to continue to provide 24/7 care for Carol during this journey, which I have come to believe is a journey of love and faith.

As I have said before, this caregiving journey, while extremely difficult, has provided me with some of the most rewarding and fulfilling days of my life. While I have many happy memories of the 55 years that we have been married, these later caregiving days will remain embedded in my memory bank forever.

Hopefully, you, the readers of this column, can relate to how I feel. I would like to hear your stories of love and commitment as you travel your own personal difficult journeys with your spouses. If you would like to share those stories with other readers, please email me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com. I will include your stories in a future column to provide inspiration to other caregivers.

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God;

everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God."

(1 John 4:8)


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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© 2006 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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