An Answer from Jim Duchene:
The love and caring that comes across in your few words leads me to believe that you're already doing everything right. I would agree with Dr. Cail, however, and say that you need to take care of yourself as well. Your husband, step-mother, and, I'm sure, everyone else in your life are very lucky to have you.
An Answer from Mary Cail:
Here are a few thoughts that may help: Taking care of yourself will help you care for your husband.
1. Allow yourself as much guilt-free time away from caregiving as you can. I put this first because family caregivers have problems finding people to step in or community programs that provide respite care at a reasonable price. But if you can, involve friends, members of a church, neighbors—anyone who is responsible and willing: Don’t be reluctant to ask for help, even if it’s 'inviting' a friend to bring lunch or dinner over so you can spend some non-caregiving time together while you're at home. Making time for yourself and keeping in balance as best you can will help you be there for your husband.
2. Try to separate your husband from the disease: When he is frustrating or frustrated and acting in unpredictable or out-of-character ways, remind yourself that this is the condition and not him. He didn't choose and cannot control his illness.
3. Forgive yourself. Every caregiver has said and done things they regret—myself (most definitely) included. These times are usually not remembered for long, if at all, which is the only advantage I can see in memory loss.
4. In as much as possible, step into your husband’s world. He can no longer take part, really, in yours. Let him be who he is. Accept what he can give and allow yourself to feel sadness over what he can no longer do and be. Remind yourself that if he could, he would be expressing his love and gratitude to you.
5. Make a photo album of the two of you. Include pictures of the homes you've lived in, your children growing up, pets and vacations. You can look at these together as a way of sharing your love with him, even if he fails to recognize you in the moment.