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I’m a wife of 19.5 years to my husband, Ron. Full time caregiver, student, wife, and homemaker. I quit working 1.5 years ago to be home with Ron full time. I volunteer part time at church doing pre-marital counseling and serving as the care coordinator and leader of our marriage mentor group. I just finished my BS in Psych (with a minor in Christian Counseling) and I’m starting MA professional counseling in Spring 2015 through Liberty University’s online program.

Besides “caregiver,” I’m a mom to three adult children and nana to 7 grandchildren.

My dad, who died Jan 2014, has had the biggest impact in making me who I am today. He was a former pastor who encouraged me to pursue counseling.

What’s your mantra? God, please get me to tomorrow without giving up so I can try again.

Who are you caring for? My husband, Ron, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last spring. Though I knew something was probably amiss a year or two earlier, I was in denial. He had prostate cancer in Dec 2011, and was successfully treated with hormone deprivation and radiation, over 2 year period (successful is a relative term, isn’t it?). He is cancer free, but he lives with effects of no testosterone and radiation, which have resulted in some minor incontinence issues. (Usually minor, anyway).

What was your greatest caregiving lesson? My husbands moods are often queued from my emotions, energy level and frustrations. He perceives that any feelings I am experiencing are caused by him.

What do you wish you were told before you became a caregiver? How to handle the negativity, anger, accusations and frustrations. How to keep someone safe who does not want to be helped and is in denial of impairment (though he knows he needs help at times, his machismo won’t allow him to accept help most of the time).

What advice would you give to other caregivers? Have a support system, like family nearby who can step in to give you a break.

What’s your best piece of advice for life in general? Seek God.

What’s been the hardest part of caregiving for you? Emotionally navigating life caring for someone who appears to hate me most of the time. He has even threatened to shoot me.

What’s the most rewarding part of caregiving? The rare moments when he tells me he loves me (though that inspires caution in me most of the time now).

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Devotional readings, coffee, walk before he gets out of bed.

What’s the last thing you do at night? Pray, take a sleep aid. I’ve never been one to have trouble sleeping, but now I worry about what he will do, so I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

What keeps you up at night? Worrying that he will get into trouble at night. He goes to bed very late some nights and often goes outside after dark. Sometimes he does inappropriate things like drive, getting on ladders or yard work at night. I can’t stop him and I have to sleep so I take a sleep aid.

What motivates you? Hope, faith, must be love, because without love I would have given up by now.

What’s the best tool or strategy you’ve found to help you with caregiving? Friends and prayer.

In ten words or less, what has caregiving taught you? I have a lot to learn.

What’s your best habit? Walking, devotions, reading inspirational hope filled materials.

What do you do when you have 15 minutes of free time? I read, crochet, and play tablet games.

What do you think makes a life well lived? Heart connections and quality time.

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