Today, Friday, November 27, Joe and Wilma have been married 58 years. They met in 8th grade and were high school sweethearts. Like any great partnership, it’s been a long road full of bumps and beautiful moments.
In 2000, Wilma had a stroke which they believe was a catalyst for the Alzheimer’s. It’s been a relatively slow progression, and as Wilma’s only caregiver for 13 years, Joe happily took care of everything for his wife. As a disease like Alzheimer’s progresses, caregivers take on more and more tasks. In 2013, Joe reached out to the Council on Aging of Henderson County, “I realized I was at the end of my rope, and I needed help.” said Joe, “trips out had just become nearly impossible and dangerous for her.”
Through our Caregiver Respite program—provided by a grant from the Land of Sky Regional Council—Joe now receives a small amount of financial assistance to help pay for Wilma’s secondary caregiver, Tracy. Being able to rely on Tracy gives Joe the much needed freedom to take care of errands and his own appointments. Self-care is one of the first things to go in the life of a caregiver, and it’s important to take time for yourself to prevent the ever increasing “caregiver burnout.”
When we asked Joe what kind of advice he could offer to other caregivers, or those with the role in their future, he said “Be patient and kind and remember that they’re in there somewhere, and spend as much time with them as you can, because one day you won’t be able to.”