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Posted: December 30, 2004

Spousal Caregiving

Caregiving in Hurricane Alley, What a Year!

Bill Andrew

"Hurricane Alley." That was Florida in 2004! Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne were familiar names but unwelcome guests to those of us who live in Florida as well as to those of you who have family or friends living in Florida.

But have you considered the impact on the spousal caregiver? Those of you who live in Florida know whereof I speak. You have had the real live experience. Providing quality care for a loved one is difficult in any circumstance. But providing care for a spouse under the stress and strain of one hurricane (much less four) is a real challenge for any spousal caregiver. Let me tell you how Carol and I survived not one but four hurricanes within a six-week period this past fall.

But first, let me put our Florida location into perspective. Winter Haven is located in Polk County, the geographical center of Florida, on a ridge that runs down the center of the state. We are about 80 miles from each coast. On August 13, Hurricane Charley made a southwest to northeast trek across Polk County. On September 5, Hurricane Frances made a southeast to northwest trek, again across Polk County. On September 16, Hurricane Ivan went up the Gulf and missed the Florida peninsula but hit the Florida panhandle and remnants looped around and came east to west Polk County. And finally, Hurricane Jeanne followed the path of Frances (you guessed it) across Polk County. That?s all my reference to Polk County, Florida, as Hurricane Alley 2004.

With the eye of Charley, Frances, and Jeanne within 20-30 miles of our home in Winter Haven, I could have placed Carol in a special needs shelter during each storm, but I elected not to because I was comfortable in our own home, which has now been "hurricane-tested" three times in 2004. Carol was in familiar surrounding and so was I.

Still, my capacity to deliver quality tender loving care was put to the test. The most difficult times occurred when we were without power for hours and days at a time. But you learn to adapt, and adapt is what we did. The bottom line is that we survived the 2004 hurricanes! And with Carol's late-stage Alzheimer's disease, she was safe in my "good hands" as well as in God's "good hands."

The Number 1 item on my caregiving agenda during each hurricane was prayer. I prayed before the hurricanes, during the hurricanes, and after the hurricanes -- for Carol, for myself, and for our home. I hoped for the best and I did not worry since I knew that everything was in God's hands and He would watch over us.

The Number 2 item on my caregiving agenda was to keep Carol as close to our routine daily schedule as I could. In my previous column, "A Prescription for Caregiving," I indicated that after prayer came patience, planning, perspective, praise, patter, and proper-nutrition -- in that order. All of these "caregiver characteristics" were put to the test, big time! And all were necessary in order to maintain some sense of normalcy for Carol, at least in her reality, despite the hurricane impact realities.

I?ve indicated before that I will be discuss each of these "caregiver characteristics" in more detail in future columns, especially from the perspective of the adversity that we faced in preparing for, living though, and recovering from four hurricanes within a six-week period during August and September 2004. Seems like a fitting way to say ?good night? to 2004, doesn?t it?


"Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity."

(Sirach 2:2)

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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