Caring for an aging family member can turn everything you think you know about love upside down. Issues surrounding love and caregiving are common topics of discussion on the AgingCare.com Caregiver Support Forum:
Can someone with Alzheimer's sense that you love them, even when they have no idea who you are?
"It can't hurt to try. Supposing we're all just romantic, sentimental fools and the person with advanced Alzheimer's is not, as we fondly imagine, feeling anything at all, what have we lost? Love is about giving it, as well as receiving it. So even if they don't feel better for your presence (and I'm not at all sure about that, because who knows what's going on in their heads?), you'll feel better for knowing you're watching over her."—Countrymouse
"When my neighbor, Harold, could no longer speak or find his way home, I could always hug him and he would smile. In my eyes, that's enough. Touch is so incredibly important, to all of us."—pamstegma
Why is it so draining to take care of a spouse you love so dearly?
"Caring for elderly parents is just as stressful, just as heartbreaking, but caring for a spouse is still different. The person we shared our lives with...even if it was just a short while....is not the same as a parent. A spouse is a partner, a friend...to see that person change and become a stranger is so hard.—Scared
"My husband and I had such a short time together before dementia. Our relationship has changed from passionate love affair to good friends and roommates."—tooyoung
"It is hard to accept that my husband will be dying in the near future and to watch his memory go as well. All I can say to everyone else is that we are not alone in this path we have taken on. One day at a time is the only thing that keeps me going and remembering that it is the disease not the person. Hang in there it is hard but survivable."—angelmaker
Why don't I like my mom anymore? Feeling so guilty…
"Of course you love your mom. We all love our moms and dads. That's why we feel so bad when we secretly wish they'd fall off the planet and disappear. That's why we feel so guilty all the time. Yes, it's about HER, but it's about YOU, too. That's why it's so important to find a balance in care giving."—StandingAlone
"I thought I was alone until I started reading here, now I realize our situations are so similar. I have had days when I wish mom would die and be at peace, other days I have wanted to go myself, others I'm just lost in sadness and frustration. I still care, I pray that whatever decisions I make are the right ones. Think of the good years you both had, even if you place her somewhere, you will not abandon her, you are a good daughter. I wish there was a manual for this problem but every situation is different. Some make it through the end being the caregiver, some allow the responsibility to go to someone else. Whatever the case, we are all good children doing the best we can with what we have been handed."—Stillhope
"I don't like my dementia dad much these days. I love him but liking him isn't there anymore… I think it's normal for this stage."—ypffani
"I used to think that I was a nice person, that is, until Mom moved in with us! I feel guilty that I wish she would just stay in her room. At times, her mere presence drives me crazy. Then there are times that we talk and the love comes rushing back. Having her with us is a blessing and a curse, since at times, I feel like I'm not the person I thought I was. I love having all of you to commiserate with. It makes me feel like maybe I'm not quite as bad as I think I am!"—Roxanne627
Is there a loving relationship when someone demands 24/7 care?
"The cycle of caregiving is an expression of one's deepest love. It is giving of oneself to help another. To set boundaries is the hard part."—kathyt1
"Love tests our limits. I am doing my very best at helping, taking on responsibilities and setting boundaries. Today, the stress became overwhelming. Now I know it's time to step back. Do the best you can. Seek outside advice like this and provide love and care while protecting your own emotional and physical health."—jillpamela2539
Why did I ever believe that, if love was great enough, it would find a way?
"We can do things with love that we couldn't do with indifference. Love can often find a way when there doesn't seem to be one—motivation can make a huge difference. But love, great as it is, has its limits. Love does not cure dementia (or cancer or COPD or ...). Why did you ever believe that love is enough? Well, we are kind of conditioned along those lines, aren't we? And it is a beautiful notion. Most of us would like to believe it and try to, until/unless we are personally up against its limitations."—jeannegibbs
"There is more power in love than anything else I know of in this world. Unbelievable power. I'm growing up. Not jaded. Clint Eastwood said, ‘A man's got to know his limitations.' My limitations have merely been tested to their fullest extent. However, I would never know how much I was capable of if I didn't keep trying. Nor would I even want to harness that power called love if it did not continue to amaze me daily. It's my human limitations that I am frustrated with—not love itself. My love is pure. My human nature is flawed."—bloujeanbaby