The Congregation at Duke University Chapel

The Journey of a Caregiver

For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording of this presentation. [high fidelity audio playable under all personal computer operating systems via VLC media player, Microsoft Windows Media Player with the codecs for FLAC et al, OS X QuickTime with the XiphQT plugin, etc., on many Android-based mobile devices, and on iOS-based mobile devices via apps such as FLAC Player or Golden Ear]

The Journey of a Caregiver

presentation at Adult Forum by
Nell Noonan
Congregation member
October 26, 2014
Noonan discusses her journey as a caregiver to her husband for seven and a half years and how she came to understand that experience as a spiritual pilgrimage. Her books, Not Alone: Encouragement for Caregivers (2009) [following the "Look inside" link on that page shows a preview] and The Struggles of Caregiving (2011), [following the "Look inside" link on that page shows a preview] both published by Upper Room, are available.

10 Signs of Caregiver Stress

(Alzheimer's Association 2009)
  1. DENIAL about the disease and its effects on the person who has been diagnosed. "I know Mom's going to get better."
  2. ANGER at the person with Alzheimer's or others; that no effective treatments or cures currently exist and that people don't understand what's going on. "If he asks me that question one more time, I'll scream."
  3. SOCIAL WITHDRAWAL from friends and activities that once brought pleasure. "I don't care about getting together with the neighbors anymore."
  4. ANXIETY about facing another day and what the future holds. "What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?"
  5. DEPRESSION begins to affect the ability to cope. "I don't care anymore."
  6. EXHAUSTION makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks. "I'm too tired for this."
  7. SLEEPLESSNESS caused by a never-ending list of concerns. "What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?"
  8. IRRITABILITY leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and reactions. "Leave me alone!"
  9. LACK OF CONCENTRAIION makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks. "I was so busy, I forgot we had an appointment."
  10. HEALTH PROBLEMS begin to take their toll, both mentally and physically. "I can't remember the last time I felt good."



Bledsoe, Wanda Scott and Bledsoe, Milt. Walking Together Through Illness: Twelve Steps for Caregivers and Care Receivers. Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 2006

Bridges, William. Transitions: Strategies for coping with the Difficult, Painful, and Confusing Times in Your Life, 2nd Ed. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books, 2004

Feil, Naomi. The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with “Alzheimer’s-Type Dementia.” Baltimore: Health Professions Press, 2002

Hicks, Josephine H. If There’s Anything I Can Do: What you Can Do When Serious Illness Strikes. Charlotte, NC: SPARK Publications, 2011

Lake, Nell. The Caregivers: A Support Group’s Stories of Slow Loss, Courage, and Love. New York: Scribner, 2014

Mace, Nancy L. and Rabins, Peter V. The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for Persons with Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life. New York: Warner Books, 1984, 2001, 2006

McLeod, Beth Witrogen. Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Renewal. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.

Rupp, Joyce. Praying Our Goodbyes: A Spiritual Companion Through Life’s Losses and Sorrows. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1988, 2009

Samples, Pat; Larsen, Diane; Larsen, Marvin.Self-Care for Caregivers: A Twelve Step Approach. Center City, MN: Hazelden, 1991

Shenk, David. The Forgetting: Alzheimer’s Portrait of an Epidemic. New York: Anchor Books, 2001, 2003

Strong, Maggie. Mainstay: for the Well Spouse of the Chronically Ill. Northampton, MA: Bradford Books, 1988, 1997

Thibault, Jane Marie and Morgan, Richard L. No Act of Love is Ever Wasted: The Spirituality of Caring for Persons with Dementia. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2009


Upper Room, Daily Bread, Forward Day by Day, God Calling, Jesus Calling, or any daily devotional book.

Not Alone: Encouragement for Caregivers and The Struggles of Caregiving by Nell Noonan are specifically for caregivers (Upper Room Books).

The National Alliance for Caregivers has an excellent website: