Relying on God’s Strength in Caregiving

We often hear people talk about relying on God’s strength through the difficult times.  But what does that look like?  How do we find strength for the long haul, especially when we are so tired?


We can learn from the ways Jesus handled His own caregiving responsibilities while on Earth.

  • He frequently spent time alone in prayer
  • He often prayed with His closest friends
  • He publicly thanked God the Father for what God had provided.
  • He faced each crisis with calm assurance because He had placed His confidence in God
  • He delegated work to other people
  • He grieved the losses of those He loved with a sense of hope, because He had an eternal perspective


I am sure if you think and pray upon it, you will find many examples from Jesus’ life that model for us the attributes that can make our caregiving more rewarding and fulfilling. But even if we just focus on the above points, we can grow closer to our Lord as we do the work of being His hands and feet for our loved ones.


Look to Jesus as your ultimate model of a healthy caregiver (emotionally and spiritually), and follow His example in your own caregiving work.  Obviously prayer is an important part of this, as many of his techniques involved prayer.  If you are at a loss for prayer, don’t worry.  God already gave us one;  The Lord’s Prayer.  Don’t forget to ask others to pray for you and your family as you navigate this difficult time of life.  I know when I have had my greatest pain and hardships, I could actually feel the prayers of others when I felt too lost to pray myself.


Jesus faced each crisis with calm assurance because He had placed His confidence in God.  We need to ask ourselves if we are keeping God’s promises forefront in our mind; which can be difficult to do when overwhelmed with your own life, plus taking care of someone.  How can I switch over to this calm assurance?  For myself, I leave post it notes on the mirror in my bathroom.  Little inspirational sayings or bible verses.  Goodness knows that my mind is so busy thinking of what I have to do next, that these positive thoughts might never enter my brain if I don’t have some sort of reminder.  The same goes for the eternal perspective.  Reminders and prayers definitely help.


Yes, Jesus delegated.  You can too!  Using the Genus™ app, you can create a care circle of friends and family to provide respite care or perhaps a meal.  If your church is involved with using Genus™, then maybe you can enlist help there as well.  Don’t feel you shouldn’t ask for help.  Jesus asked for help.   Remember that you are providing an opportunity for others to be blessed by being His hands and feet for your loved one.  Being a martyr and trying to do it all yourself doesn’t honor God or your loved one.


Jesus did all these things and more.  We can use him as our Givers of Care Role Model.  He wants to help.  All we have to do is ask!

God Has Entrusted Us

God has entrusted to be a Giver of Care for our loved one.  He/she i into our capable hands.  Whew!  He has ENTRUSTED us!  That statement alone can change one’s perspective.  As incapable as we may feel, He will provide the strength we need.  All we need to do is ask for His help, rather than relying on our own limited power.


Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with al your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 


Trust Him…. Does that mean I have to stop focusing on me and how unfair life is right now?  I know that left to my own devices, I can be self-centered.  I can get bothered by the inconvenience of caring for my parents, and then I feel guilty.   I don’t think that is what God had in mind when He entrusted me with my parents’ care.  However, even the mundane tasks of caregiving can become spiritual experiences for us and our loved ones.  Transforming our hearts; transforming our loved one’s life.


While your work as a caregiver is vitally important, don’t make the mistake of defining yourself by the services you perform. Instead, ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you and focus on the fact that you are a child of God being the hands and feet of Christ for another one of His children.  Ask Him to help you understand how your caregiving fits into His overall purpose for your life. Place your trust in the fact that God’s grace will always be there to give you the help you need.

Let your love for God flow into all areas of your life, especially this most important duty of caregiving.  Try thanking God for the opportunity to be HIS hands and feet for one of HIS children.   When my dad was alive, battling Alzheimer’s, I didn’t do this.  But with my mom and her dementia, I am able to thank God for our times together.  I have a much better attitude with my mom than I did with my dad.  Coincidence?  I think not.  It seems that this time around I have added gratitude and increased prayer time to my arsenal.


God’s message is spread through God’s children.  We, as caregivers, are His children, providing loving care to another one of His children.  We are furthering His kingdom when we provide vital care for someone in need.  What greater honor can there be?


I pray that God can help me keep this focus, rather than focusing on how tired and/or inconvenienced I am.  By asking God to help me keep this focus, then I know I can do it.  And while I’m at it, I can pray for all the other millions of Givers of Care out there as well.  We need to help each other!

Our Caregiving Story As Part of God’s Story


Your caregiving story is a part of the greater story God is writing for the world.  As you spend time with the loved one you’re caring for, see if you can find points of connection between your two stories.   Your lives connect in shared compassion, intimacy, and revelation. As you care for your loved one, remember that God has the power to redeem yours AND your loved one’s story – changing it for the better in ways that will matter for eternity.

Recognize the significance of the times you share with your loved one. When you both enter each other’s stories, you can make connections that will matter forever. Even your most mundane work (like changing your loved one’s diapers or driving him or her to the doctor) isn’t just physical.  Rather, it can be a spiritual experience, if we allow it.

However, we are human.  We get overwhelmed, discouraged, and tired.  In our exhaustion, it’s hard to remember these important and faith strengthening ideals.   That’s when we need to rely on prayer.  Sometimes the prayer is a memorized “Lord’s Prayer”, other times it is a more intimate conversation with God.  Either way, God knows what is in your heart.  If you’re too tired to get “real” with your prayers, it’s okay.  He knows. He understands.  That’s why He gave the Lord’s prayer.  It covers the bases:

  • Our Holy Father
  • Thy will be done
  • Give us this day our daily bread ( many interpret this as strength)
  • Forgive us and help us forgive
  • Keep us from temptation and evil

And remember, God has a plan for all of this.  We might not see it.  But it’s there.  Pray for Him to reveal His purpose and shower you with His grace.  He often reveals himself during our trials as it is when we are hurting that we are more open to Him.


Jeremiah 29:11

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Showing Forgiveness in Caregiving

Forgiveness is crucial in life, but especially in a caregiving situation.   Let your gratitude for how much you have been forgiven by God motivate you to show that same forgiveness.   Forgive the loved one you care for when he or she hurts or offends you.  It will happen.  Your loved one is facing major setbacks and frustrations, and those may cause unkind words to flow or inconsiderate actions to surface.  Of course those words and actions sting.

Pray, pray, and pray some more when you are feeling offended.   As you forgive the loved one you’re caring for, commit to act with his or her best interests in mind going forward. Let your thoughts, actions, and words about your loved one reflect that commitment.

Forgive other family members, like siblings, who don’t pitch in to do their fair share of the caregiving work.  This can be more difficult than forgiving your person of care.  I know I have had many moments of disappointment and anger when a sibling or two has not done what I wanted them to do in regards to my parents’ care.  I’ve even been known to send out a scolding email now and then when I was feeling particularly stressed and overwhelmed.  NOT a good idea, trust me!!  Remember, we don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life.  And not all of our siblings will prioritize care for an ailing parent in the same way that we might.  Playing “martyr” doesn’t help.  It might make us feel more important, but it does nothing toward building family relationships.  And it certainly isn’t what God wants us to do.

Forgive doctors who don’t take enough time to answer your questions. Forgive care workers who may fall short on the job.  Remember that their job is a tough one, and most definitely not a well-paying one.  They need our support, prayers, and encouragement.

Forgive yourself for not being able to do everything you’d like to do as a Giver of Care.  You are human.  You will make mistakes with your actions, priorities and much, much more.  If you are praying for God’s grace to get you through this trying time, then He will provide.  God does not want us beating ourselves up.

Regularly ask God to show you both your own shortcomings and who you need to forgive. Then confess your sins, repent, accept God’s forgiveness for yourself, and rely on God’s help to forgive others. In the process, you’ll find that God gives you the grace to develop greater compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love.


            Colossians 3:13:  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.


Caregiving and Suffering

What does God tell us about suffering and hardship? People who trust God are not exempt from difficult life circumstances. But we also know, we have the Ultimate Support at our disposal during hardship: God’s Grace. Being a Giver of Care as well as a Receiver of Care can often be a hardship. A struggle that can involve great suffering. It’s one of life’s biggest challenges. But we have hope. Thank God for that!

Did you know that suffering and glory are often linked in the New Testament? Some of my favorite passages on this topic:
• 1 Peter 5:10 – After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
• Romans 8:18 – I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
• 1 Peter 2:21 – For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you.
Our Lord promises to help us through our suffering. If the loved one you are caring for is a believer, then sharing these passages during your visit may provide relief for their suffering.

In our family, we use the Moments module of the Genus™ App to provide some pictures of favorite bible versus to share with our mom when we visit. By doing a Google search for bible verses that give hope, then click on the Images tab, and you will find loads of them. I took a picture of bible verse with my phone, and added it to the Moments module. Mom loves it when we share these verses of hope, and it’s all at our finger tips using Genus™. Not only does she appreciate the messages, they truly serve to lift her mood and spirit, which is what we are doing this for in the first place: providing the best emotional, physical and spiritual support for our loved ones.

Remember that there is pain and suffering in life, especially in a caregiving situation. But with God’s help, we can not only endure, but we can overcome, and find the glory in the midst of the chaos. That, my friends, is the purpose of our suffering. We can use God’s grace to not only endure our troubles, but to shine through them, in His light, showing others that God does provide love, hope, and encouragement in our darkest times.

Understanding Dementia, the Ultimate Thief

Understanding dementia and all its complexities cannot be done in one article, or neither by reading an entire book.  Hence is why there are countless people who have dedicated their careers to helping us better understand this debilitating condition.  There are many books out there, and one of the best, and most easy to read books I have found is called “Experiencing Dementia”  by H. Norman Wright.  It is a short, easy to read book and very reasonably priced on Amazon (less than $5.00)

The author has been diagnosed with early stages of dementia after years of being a caregiver for a handicapped son and eventually, his own wife.  After doing his own research, both academically and experientially, he skillfully describes the condition in an easy to understand manner.

Dementia is not a disease in itself; but rather a group of symptoms that result from other sources, or diseases.  It is basically an ‘umbrella term’ used to describe the many symptoms that interfere with normal life functioning.  There are several types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s accounting for somewhere between 60-80% of all cases (over 5 million cases).  The other most common types of dementia are:

  • Vascular Dementia
    • small silent strokes
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
    • Abnormal clumps of protein form in the brain causing never cells to degenerate
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
    • The area of the brain responsible for behavior is gradually eroded
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
    • Used to be called ‘Water on the Brain’ because of buildup of fluid on the brain
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
    • Change of IQ functioning

What our loved ones with dementia are facing:

  • Memories and abilities that they have worked their entire life to obtain, are being slowly stolen from them
  • Great emotional pain: for both Receivers of Care and Givers of Care
  • Loss of self: one of the greatest losses a person can face
  • Emotional issues and personality changes as a result of the part of the brain responsible for emotions and memory is affected (the amygdala)
  • Sleeplessness due to the brain stem being affected
  • Loss of memory is extremely frightening; our memories give us life!

Dementia is a terrible thief.  It robs people of their memories, abilities, personalities, coping abilities, sleep, and eventually physical functions.  How couldn’t this change a person?  It is so out of their control, we must remember that.  It helps me to put myself in the place of a dementia patient, and try to imagine how I would feel.  Yes, this is a scary exercise.  But if it’s scary just thinking about it, imagine how it is to live with it!  Bone chilling to consider.

One fact is certain.  Regular, consistent, positive visits from family and friends is the biggest source of relief for our loved ones, even if they don’t remember it later.  Imagine how frightened they must feel.  Spreading out visits will help with that.   Using the Community module in the Genus™ app, you can look back over past data and see how you and your care circle are doing with providing consistent contact with your loved one.  You can correlate that to other date  you might be tracking, such as physical mobility and/or mood.  Then using the calendar function, you can easily plan visits so that they don’t overlap too much and are spread out to best benefit the patient.

Using the Moments module, you can take pictures of special people, places and events that will help stimulate positive conversation during your visits.  Using your smart phone during a visit, you can share the photos with your loved one, or just listen to some music.  We have also taken pictures of bible verses images and other inspirational sayings that we use when visiting my mom.  She is always grateful for the wisdom shared and seeing it in writing is different than hearing it from a family member.  More authoritative and less “bossy”.

Yes, dementia is a thief.  But armed with information and tools, we can minimize the damage and provide the best love and support we can for our loved ones.

I Want To Go Home!

If you are caring for emotionally distraught loved one who uses the “I want to go home!”  phrase over and over; then you have probably felt some frustration with how to respond to that.   If your Receiver of Care is in a facility, or another person’s home; then it is understandable why they are saying that phrase repeatedly.  However, what if your Receiver of Care is already home?  How should you respond?  What will calm your loved one down?  What are they really saying?

Maybe the following story, about a young Giver of Care, Anna, will provide some light on the subject:

Anna was a sweet 13 year old girl, who was emotionally distraught over some sad family situations.   Her grandfather was suffering from Alzheimer’s and her parents were in the middle of a very sad divorce.  It was a very lonely and troubling time for Anna.   One night, things seemed more than she could bear.  ‘”Dad…I want to go home… I want to go home.. I want to go home”, she kept repeating, through her broken sobs.

Her Dad, trying to comfort his daughter, asked Anna to explain what she meant.  His heart broke for his daughter, as she answered through her tears, “Back to when everything was okay, when we were traveling, singing, camping, and everything was okay!”

What a profound moment for Anna’s dad.  As he was sitting in his home with his upset daughter, he realized HOME is not necessarily a physical place.  HOME is a safe place.  A time when things were good.  Bingo!

The following morning, Anna’s dad was visiting his father, a patient at an Alzheimer’s memory unit .   The elderly man began his visit as he often did, repetitively saying,  “I want to go home”.  Ordinarily that would lead to a ‘logical, and unproductive attempt’ to reason that this is his new home.  That morning however, armed with a deeper understanding of home, a heartfelt reply came forward.  “Yes, let’s go home Dad.”

They held hands as they walked and talked  about fond memories: when his father taught him fishing, when they built a tree house together and even how his father decided to ask his mom for her hand in marriage.  It wasn’t long before the elderly gentleman felt peace and he stopped asking to go home.  When they returned to his apartment within the memory unit he asked, “Is this where I live?  It sure seems nice!”

 Other siblings began using this same approach and over time, this helped him transition to his new and final place of residence at the memory care unit.  Equally valuable, this approach of ‘changing the subject’ led to more meaningful and healing visits for all involved!

 Research confirms, when we are upset, talking about a time when life was more pleasant is therapeutic and triggers a chemical reaction that helps brings a sense of clam.

The take away?  As a caregiver sometimes it’s simply best to accept that “being right” isn’t the answer, i.e. it’s not the time to say, “Dad, enough already .. you are home”.  It may be best to take our loved ones for a walk down memory lane!

The wonderful young woman who inspired this story is the daughter of the developer of Genus.  Anna couldn’t have been kinder to her grandfather when he was suffering with Alzheimer’s and shared many wonderful, and yes, repetitive conversations about his past.

Communicating With Our Receivers of Care


If you are involved in caring for an older adult, maybe suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s,  or possibly suffering from a physical disability; you already know how difficult communicating with them can sometimes be.   It is understandable that our Receivers of Care can perceive us as ‘bossy’.  It is also understandable that we won’t like that perception one bit!

We didn’t choose to have to tell our loved ones what to do and how to do it.  They certainly did not choose to need care.   It is easy to get frustrated in the whole communication process, ending up in an unnecessary argument.  At the very best, we may meet with passive resistance from our loved ones and that doesn’t help anyone.  At the very worst, an all out war!

This article from Psychology Today provides some excellent tips for communicating with the loved ones we care for.  If you or your loved one are particularly struggling with communication, there is also a book that goes in to greater detail offered in the article.

Am I At Risk for This Disease?

If your life is wrapped up in the challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you can’t help but think, “Is this going to be me one day?   Am I at risk for this disease?”   It can be pretty darn scary.


What we eat is critical to maintain healthy brains, and of course to keep us feeling strong enough to accomplish all that we need to do.  Amy Paturel, of AARP discusses the importance of the diet we follow for our brain health.    You can find her article on the AARP website.  She lists simple foods that need to be part of our daily diet to optimize the science of nutrition in combating Alzheimer’s.   Basically, she is encouraging the Mediterranean Diet, known for brain enriching foods.

 Regular Exercise

Of course, diet is just part of what we need to do to keep our brains healthy.  Regular exercise is equally important, which can be difficult when you are busy living your demanding life while caring for an aging loved one.   Remember to allow time for yourself to get the exercise you need no matter how impossible that seems to be.  Is there a way you can kill two birds with one stone and exercise while spending time with your loved one?  My dad loved his daily walks and to make it more physically challenging for myself, I sometimes would jog in place as we walked through the park.  He got his much needed family time and I was able to get some cardio as we spent time together as well!   I have a friend who gently jogged as she wheeled her mom through the neighborhood in her wheelchair.  Heck, I’ve even been known to sit and do my stretches as we chatted in the den.   We do what we gotta do, right?

Additional Information

For more tips on Alzheimer’s prevention, see Alzheimer’s website with all kinds of up to date research:

Remember, taking care of the You the Caregiver is just as important as taking care of your loved ones!

Stress Management for Givers of Care

Being a caregiver for chronically ill patient can take its toll on Givers of Care.  In fact, we often just avoid thinking about it because even that adds to the stress.   Doing your homework on combating stress will benefit you and your loved one.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, who will?  And if we don’t take care of ourselves, then our loved ones suffer as well.

This article from the Mayo Clinic addresses this issue and provides some helpful tips for combating stress.  In a very clear, organized fashion, the Mayo Clinic staff has gathered information on signs of stress, risk factors, and strategies for dealing with caregiver stress