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Maria and Joseph were already in their mid-80s when they became care partners of the Alzheimer’s Care Team® at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. Maria was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and Joseph was her primary caretaker. Although he lovingly cared for his wife with no help for some time, her condition eventually became more than Joseph could manage alone. Care Team® members helped Maria nurture the garden she loved, took her for walks and to church on Sundays, and eventually helped her with basic daily hygiene and simple tasks.
When Maria was moved to a nursing home the team continued to care for Joseph, now at home alone. When his bride of 64 years died, they helped him sort through a home full of accumulated memories, cleaning and organizing to make him as comfortable and secure as possible. Joseph misses Maria, but he would say that being at home, supported by a loving and trustworthy team of friends, is a good place for a 90-year old widower to be.
Eileen began to say a long goodbye to Ivan, her husband of 68 years, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago. As her husband changed, friends seemed to drift away and the days became lonely. But the Alzheimer’s Care Team® ministry at John Wesley United Methodist Church changed all that.
At regularly scheduled times, Care Team® members come to their home for meaningful activities with Ivan, giving Eileen “time off” to rest or attend to her personal needs. And once a month, Ivan joins friends at The Gathering Place, an Alzheimer's Care Team® congregation-based monthly program for persons with dementia that provides activity and social interaction in a safe, professionally-supervised environment.
Eileen says she no longer feels alone, and Ivan is being helped, too: “The Care Team members were strangers at first, but they are like family to us now. Ivan can’t speak any longer, but when he is with the teams, he lights up and enjoys being with them.” Even in their most challenging days, both of them have encouragement and support. And they’re together, just the way they like it. Just the way they’ve always been.
Betty does not have dementia, but she lives alone. And at 77, she copes with the usual maladies of persons her age: failing vision, dizziness, and even diabetes. Without support, she might not be able to remain at home, but with the help of her Second Family Care Team® she is able to do so.
She relies on her team to get things done— going to church, shopping, running errands—and its members are like a safety net for her when her health issues are especially challenging. Their simple acts of kindness bring her joy and a feeling of connectedness. “If I have a need,” Betty says, “I can contact them without feeling it is an imposition.” They take joy in the relationship, too. The care, they say, is mutual.