All the responsibilities Frances had maintained through nearly 60 years of marriage—paying bills, making appointments, housekeeping, cooking—fell to A. He accepted his new role without complaint, even as he found himself feeling less like a partner in a marriage and more like a father parenting a child. She could get her nightgown over her head but was confounded by the arm holes. "Caregiving is overwhelming, and there's no reward," says geriatric psychiatrist William Uffner, M.

"I just say until you have walked this journey you can't judge me." The next phase The journey definitely affected A. and Joyce stood before a small crowd of friends and family and pledged to spend their remaining years together, however many or few there may be.

B.'s expectation of what he wanted for the rest of his life. And soon he wasn't counting the days since his wife's passing, or breaking into tears at the small mementos of her existence—the last bottle of nutritional supplement in the fridge, her photo on the mantel. "I have promised, faithfully, that I will outlive her," A. says with the resolve born from deep love that lets you believe saying something is enough to make it so.

"And then you don't even have your husband or your wife when it gets too frustrating and you have a meltdown," he says. And in many cases, entering into a new relationship can give the caregiver the strength he needs to shoulder his growing responsibilities.

A new friend Enter Joyce, age 83, a lifelong friend of A. "Most of the people who do those things are not abandoning their spouse," says Uffner.

Once a master gardener, Frances slowly abandoned the hobby.

The landscaping on their Grant, Fla., home soon deteriorated to bland, basic upkeep. both immensely sad and incredibly lonely, very typical emotions for a caregiver.

And as the number of people over age 65 increases, the prevalence is expected to increase by 50 percent over the next 20 years, according to the Alzheimer's Foundation. A date on the calendar meant he had something to look forward to again. But in the end, his choice to enter into a new relationship was about striking back against Alzheimer's. I am going to have the rest of my life.' " Battling loneliness A. "I held her hand those last three nights because I didn't want her to die alone in the dark," A. But it was the loneliness that he found hardest to handle. "The only person that they can get close enough to, to share personal things, is a spouse or a girlfriend." The meaning of faithful Petersen says that, more often than not, it's women who question his choice to enter into a secondary relationship. You would have given up everything,' " Petersen says. For me, just for me, it's what I needed to do." Petersen and his lady friend are committed to each other, and he says she is a full partner in his role as caregiver to Jan. Female caregivers interviewed for this article, but who were uncomfortable with having their names used, lamented most a loss of physical intimacy.

He had a companion to talk to, someone who shared his history as well as his love of corn bread and black-eyed peas. "Alzheimer's took Jan," says Petersen, a correspondent for CBS News who has written a memoir, Jan's Story, about his caregiver journey. By going on and by having a life, I was looking in the face of the disease and saying, 'You're not going to win twice. B.'s relationship with Joyce deepened as Frances' health worsened during the last year of her life. "Women have lady friends; men don't have comparable friends that they can share things with," A. "Basic human nature is to want someone to desire, love, comfort you," says one woman, 50, who is caring for her 55-year-old husband with Alzheimer's.

Eventually, her husband's steady hand was necessary if she was to eat. "Sometimes you wind up doing things that you would do for your 6-month- or 3 1/2-year-old child." But a caregiver of older people doesn't get the positive feedback a child gives—growth, development, a glimpse of a future, Uffner says. B.—at his son's urging—summoned the courage to ask Joyce to join him alone for lunch and, eventually, out to dinner, a little dancing, the occasional movie.