Stella and Bob had been married for 63 years when I met them. I was the home health aide for Bob.
His care had become too much for Stella to do alone. It was too difficult physically, mentally and emotionally for her.
Bob had late stage Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, and he could no longer walk, use the bathroom, feed himself, or communicate well.
Stella felt depressed a lot of the time. Their relationship was no longer the same. He could not communicate with her like he used to. He could not comfort her or help her anymore.
She missed him, the way he used to be. He was still there in body, but part of him was gone and still continuing to get worse. She was losing him bit by bit every day.
Bob himself was depressed and angry a lot of the time. His anger was mostly directed toward the home health aides but sometimes spilled over onto Stella.
Bob had late stage dementia and he could no longer walk, use the bathroom, feed himself, or communicate well.
Stella loved Bob very much. She wanted to understand him even when he could not say what he needed or wanted. She would lean over him in the bed, and ask him what he needed. She would hold his hands and stroke his head to calm him.
He would get so frustrated that he could not put his words together but she spoke to him with kindness, in a calm tone of voice.
In the evenings, I would help her clean him and out him in his pajamas. They had 2 twin beds because he had to be in a hospital bed.
The beds were apart during the day, in order for the aides to have access to Bob, to perform care that was required.
At bedtime, Stella would help me to push the two beds together. She asked me to push them as close together as I could, so that they were touching.
She said, “He is my husband. I want him next to me in the bed. I want to be able to reach over and touch him. ”
She explained to me that during the nights, he would wake up and call out because he was afraid. He was disoriented and did not understand where he was or what was going to happen to him.
“I always hear him when he awakens, and I reach over and touch him to comfort him. I want to be close enough to him at night to be able to do that.”
So, every night , I pushed the beds together.
There is more to health care than just caring for the physical needs of the patient. There are emotional and mental needs of the patient and the family that are equally important.
*Note – The facts in this story are true. The names were changed to protect the privacy of Stella and Bob. Stella was 88 at the time of my association with her. Bob was 92.*