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CARENOTES / Past Carenotes / Discussion Forum

Carenotes

Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 04/03/08

I care for my husband who is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer's.  I love my husband dearly but he no longer knows me nor can we have the wonderful conversations we used to have.  It gets very very lonely. 

Some months ago I met a gentleman at a Support Group, who is in a similar situation.  We talk a lot on the telephone and that really helps me, but sometimes I feel guilty.  I have no intention of being intimate with my friend, but we have talked about going for coffee sometimes.  I know we are not doing anything wrong, so why do I feel so guilty about it?  I do not want to stop talking to him as it helps us both to cope with the situation.  What do you suggest?

 
View Comments


name:
location:
Email:
Date: 03 Apr 2008

Comments

I used to be a Director in an Alzheimer's unit. We had family support groups that met on the unit. Your situation is not uncommon. This is a very stressful and lonely time for you and your friend. Please try not to feel guilty. Friends are very special at this time. Especially ones that can truly understand what you are going through now. I hope you will continue talking


name: G. Joffe
location: Delaware County, PA
Email: joffeg@co.delaware.pa.us
Date: 03 Apr 2008

Comments

You should be able to have friends and acquaintances in your life, whether female OR male, especially during this point in your life in which you feel so lonely! If you treat your outings with this male friend the same as you would with a woman, you'll be fine. Maybe your feelings of guilt have more to do with spending time away from your husband, and having a nice time, when, under other circumstances, HE would have been the one you would have wanted to go out and have lunch with?


name: Ann
location:
Email: annette006@centurytel.net
Date: 03 Apr 2008

Comments

Suppose your husband was placed in a unit with men and women. What if he formed a relationship with another woman because he no longer knew he was married and to you. Would you feel guilty? Would he? I say go for the support from someone who knows exactly your anguish. He probably needs support, too.


name: David Gillaspie
location: Oregon
Email: deg86@comcast.net
Date: 03 Apr 2008

Comments

As caregivers we feel guilty about everything. We feel guilty our loved one is in need and we can't find the right doctor to cure them. We feel guilty that we can't cure them. We feel guilty that we don't think anyone is as good a caregiver as we are. A sense of guilt goes with the territory. I was the 24/7 caregiver for my father in law for five years. I felt guilty about doing anything that took me away from him. He had Parkinson's and dementia and had no idea who anyone was or where he was. I countered his dementia with news updates describing the man he once was, getting him to understand the guy I was talking about was one heck of a guy, and we both embraced that guy while celebrating our time together. Sometimes I added features to see if he would catch them. It became quite a routine that we built on. My wife kept reminding me I needed time away, but the caregiving duties were less stressful because I turned it into two guys hanging out together instead of a caregiving relationship. What should you do with your new friend? He doesn't sound like a predator. He doesn't sound like he's got some hidden agenda. Whether intimacy is a part of the plan or not, keeping an open line with someone in similar circumstances is a key to good health. If your time and conversations with him helps you be a better companion to your husband, where's the downside? If you have good feelings about him, who does it hurt? If you don't take care of yourself, you're not doing your loved one any favors. If spending time with the man on the telephone, or at coffee, makes both of you perk up and gives you a new perspective on your loved ones, everyone benefits. Isn't that what caregiving calls for?


name: Jim
location: Maryland
Email: heffleyjr@att.net
Date: 03 Apr 2008

Comments

It's time for coffee.


name: Terri
location:
Email: tcorcoran53@verizon.net
Date: 03 Apr 2008

Comments

Did you know about the Well Spouse Association - a national support organization for spousal caregivers. They have wonderful resources, from local support groups to online chats. Visit www.wellspouse.org.


name: DW
location: Florida
Email:
Date: 04 Apr 2008

Comments

All I have to say is "GO FOR IT"


name: Dorothy
location: VA
Email: dmsaundersinva@hotmail.com
Date: 04 Apr 2008

Comments

Please keep talking to him! You deserve each other's company. You are helping each other cope with the heartbreak that Alzheimer's brings to the spouses of those afflicted with it. Please try not to feel guilty -- I think your spouse would be pleased about your new friend. If the guilt continues, I suggest you seek counseling to help you deal with it. A friend who is traveling the same difficult journey that you are on is a real comfort.


name: Kaye
location: Texas
Email: KayeCo@aol.com
Date: 04 Apr 2008

Comments

Hello, Be grateful that you have found a new friend. What a blessing. You are very much alive and need to share your life with someone who not only is sharing the same experiences and enriching your life. Enjoy!!!! Smile with your new friend!!!! Kaye


name: Steve
location: Pondicherry, India
Email: eatspam@blueridgemail.com
Date: 05 Apr 2008

Comments

Because I have never been married I can't speak to that issue. However, I think in general as caregivers we have to deal with situations that challenge our personal boundaries in all sorts of ways. We have to make decisions and we have to act on what we feel inside is correct. We just do what needs to be done in the way we feel is right in our hearts and don't waste time on regretting that someone else might see it differently.


name: Sherry
location: New Jersey
Email:
Date: 06 Apr 2008

Comments

Regarding continuing your friendship with your Support Group friend: I suggest you do whatever makes you feel good. You have nothing to feel guilty about, and you deserve some happiness while caring for your very ill husband. And don't worry about what other people will think! You have only yourself to answer to, and you will know when you are doing the right thing.


name: Kathy
location: Texas
Email: kathy.porter@eds.com
Date: 07 Apr 2008

Comments

Taking care of yourself by talking to someone that is in a similar situation is making you a better caregiver for your husband. You are not cheating on your husband by having a cup of coffee with a friend or by having fun. Be as understanding of yourself as you are of your husband. If it makes you feel better, invite an understanding friend or family member along for coffee the first time.


name: Laura
location: West Texas
Email: ifservices.edge@yahoo.com
Date: 08 Apr 2008

Comments

It is so difficult to face Alzheimer's for any family, facing this "alone" seems to magnify the isolation a sole caregiver has. It is so easy to fall into a "friendship" because there is a commonality there, someone else who has been there. I have found that no matter how innocent the relationship, there is always a what if underlying close relationships of the opposite sex. And if you are feeling it, those around you are more than likely aware of it as well. I have a very close friend that told me that no matter what anyone else knows, you know your heart, if you feel enough discomfort to write in with question, you already know your answer. Find a female friend in this support group. I know a lot of people may tell you to find friendship where you can but do you want to remember a lifetime of fidelity? Or a few years of regret when you look back on your life? I know there are women in your support group that have the same commonalities and experiences and frustrations you have. They are looking for a kind ear as well.



 







 

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