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Giving others the gift of feeling useful


Question: My wife and I have been married for almost 52 years. Three years ago she was diagnosed with dementia and then Alzheimer’s. I believe from what I have read that she is in the middle of the moderate stage. She wants me to be with her 24/7. I have tried to get her to go to a daycare but she doesn't want to be with those "old people." I have tried to have women church friends here at home so I can get out some, but she says "I don't need a baby sitter."  I need a little relief. At the same time, I have always been self-sufficient and I dislike imposing on anyone to solve my problems. Stubborn you say? Yes. I cannot understand why anyone would give their time while I go out. Frankly it embarrasses me. I have a problem receiving gifts and would much rather give than receive. Please help me!

Dr. Amy: You definitely need help and support. If you try to do everything yourself, you run the risk of burning out. Also, since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, as you know, there will come a time when you will not be able to provide all of the care your wife needs. For this reason, it’s important to get the right kind of support in place now, before you are completely overwhelmed, so it’s there when you need more. You said you would rather give than receive. I understand that. Giving and helping each other is an important part of what makes us human. We feel useful and good when we help others. We admire people who give of themselves freely. I encourage you to let go of your embarrassment and let other people help you. Give them the gift of helping others, so they too can feel useful and loving. For someone who is very self-sufficient, this can feel awkward. Perhaps you can talk to someone about your feelings, so that you are able to truly feel comfortable accepting support. A support group could help in this regard. The Alzheimer’s Association is a great resource. They have a great website that’s easy to navigate: It can point you to your local chapter if you are not already in touch. The site also provides a lot of useful information. Good luck!

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. August 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Posted by Karen

    My Aunt and I took care of my Mom until near late stages; finally had to put her in a nursing home. She passed away 5 months after committing her. I think she might be still alive if we didn't put her in and my Aunt and I would be dead. It is a very hard decision, but whatever you choose to do it's the right decision. Friends and family want to help; trying telling your wife that they are visiting and once she's settled in, enjoy a few hours of freedom. The stress will kill you if you don't take a break.


  2. July 24, 2012 at 9:58 am | Posted by Basil Harris

    I have been caregiver for almost 3 years and get this my x- wife.She thinks (most) of the times we are still married.Now I get nothing for taking care of he , But I don't know if anyone elce can keep her safe.WHAT TO DO WHAT TO DO


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