Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Good and Bad (05/07/09)
TITLE: Love and Faith
By debora spadafora
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I know you never anticipated this happening to you but, now that someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you are compelled to do what you can to assist. While being a caregiver could be a rewarding experience, you should understand the challenges it presents and the changes in roles and relationships. An incredible amount of understanding and patience is required to assist a once independent parent, who now has to accept assistance from someone else for the first time in her life.
When my husband and I decided to move in with my in-laws and to become caregivers for my mother-in-law, we acknowledged there would be adjustments we’d have to make and obstacles we'd have to overcome in such an undertaking. These changes were crucial to us and his Mom, who was a pivotal part of his life for so very long.
My mother-in-law was a very confident and independent person who prided herself in always being able to take care of her family. Now, here she was saddled with a disease she had no way of understanding. The blank expression in her eyes as you tried to make her understand she had to take her medication, was indicative of this. Her husband of 50 years could not assist because he had Parkinson’s disease and thus began our venture into the unknown.
It was then we realized the importance of maintaining flexibility. We needed to embrace changes to keep our relationship alive, while making my Mother-in-law's life as comfortable as possible. Adjustments had to be made in our everyday lifestyle, compromises were required, and indeed, patience was a given. The luxuries we once enjoyed, such as vacations, had to be put on hold. Our weekly Friday night alone-time dinners at a fancy restaurant were now only a dream. Sacrifices had to be made but the important thing to remember was that we were a team, working together toward a common goal. It was difficult, at the best of times and often imposed a strain on our relationship but somehow we tried to work through it.
My husband is a very patient man; one of the most patient men I have ever known and this indeed was a great asset. He supported me in everything we did and was always there to listen and lend a helping hand, during difficult times. Love is a very powerful emotion and the love for his parents and I, was the glue that cemented not just our relationship but the relationship between his parents as well. He was my pillar of strength.
Communication is a reflection of which we are as human beings. It’s the embodiment of feelings, thoughts and concerns, through words and attitude and, what connects us to each other. Alzheimer’s creates barriers to communication that could impede any relationship but it’s very important to maintain a level of communication between you and your partner to avoid unnecessary stress and burnout. I strongly believe we could never have survived our role of caregiver, if we were not cognitive of each other’s feelings and if we did not have our faith in God. He gave us the strength we needed during difficult times, which reinforced our relationship.
If you ever need to prove how strong your relationship with your partner is, enter into the role of a caregiver … believe me, it’s altogether an enlightening and fulfilling venture. Don’t misunderstand me; I never said it would be an unproblematic one. It necessitates a lot of work on both parties to ensure success and happiness. However, if you are prepared to work together, be flexible, communicate your feelings and be a good listener, then the journey could be a gratifying experience. Our relationship was tested numerous times but we held fast and supported each other ceaselessly. Our love for each other matured with each arduous year, as our role of caregivers continued. This was indeed a journey well worth the effort.
If there were slices of advice I could proffer anyone considering the role of caregiving, it would be to first and foremost: understand the disease, entrust your faith in God and each other, and communicate your feelings. Provided your relationship is strong to start out with, then it will definitely get stronger based on mutual respect for each other.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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