Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dementia Care Partners

Usually when we talk about caring for another person, we use the term “caregiver.” However, the term many of us in the caring community like to use now is “care partner.” I love this term because it means that both the person who is being cared for and the person doing the caring are partners in the caring relationship. This means both of them gain from being in the relationship.

In their new book, I Care: A Handbook for Care Partners of People With Dementia, Jennifer Brush and Kerry Mills define a care partner in this way:

"When someone takes care of someone else, we call him or her a caregiver. This is a natural title and one we all understand, however, when we use this title to identify a person who provides care to a person with dementia, we are missing an important part of the equation. You see, there is nothing left in this title for the person with dementia to contribute. By referring to these people as a “care partner,” we are recognizing their contribution as a partner. With who are they partners? These care providers are important partners for the person who has dementia. This means that they are not only giving, but also receiving; the same as the person with dementia. This is the first step to changing your perspective. This also means, you, the care partner, need to prepare yourself to receive as well." (Brush, J. & Mills, K. (2014). I Care. Balboa Press.)

As my Dad, Dr. Charles Farrell says, which is shared in Brush and Mill’s book, I Care:

“In the past two years we have moved into the magical, mystical, intimate, Silent World of Dementia. This is truly a wonderful place. Our home has become quiet. At night it is essentially silent. I sleep in a small bed next to Carol and frequently we awaken at the same time. I care for her physical needs in silence. We then move close together, I place my arm around her shoulder and my head on her chest and feel totally relaxed. I feel her breath as I count her respirations and feel her heartbeat. If Carol is anxious and fearful our vital bodily functions are out of synch. As we simply lie together, we become closer and closer together and finally truly become one. We are as much in love today as we have ever been in the last 50+ years.

Dementia has not robbed Carol of her personality and it has not robbed us of each other. We have simply become Partners.”

Below is a fantastic video of care partners, with Bill sharing the story of his wife Glad who has Alzheimer's. Their story sounds so much like my Mom and Dad's. Dad even used to bike with Mom on a tandem stationary bike to help with the Parkinson's symptoms of Mom's Lewy Body Dementia. Dad would love this bike in this video and I wish we could find one.

Get out a tissue, this video will make you cry:


Rev. Katie


  1. Hi, Katie. I ordered the Brush/Mills book. It sounds interesting and helpful. Keep up the great work.

  2. Hi Katie,

    I am a fellow caregiver and just came across your blog - sorry to see you are in the same position, but if you are anything like me I hope your website provides some sort of outlet...

    I have been a young(ish!) carer for my mother-in-law, who suffers from dementia, for the last three years now.

    I am in the process of creating a new poetry site primarily aimed at carers, but also people with dementia as well -

    The blog is an honest account of my experience of caring over the last few years in poems - some silly, some exasperated, some happy, some sad - of my last three years caring for my mother-in-law, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and is aimed at helping to support other caregivers in a similar position.

    If you would be happy to link to me, I would gladly return the favour!

    DG x