November is National Caregivers Month –
a reminder that caregivers like Alice need care, too.
First Lady Rosalynn Carter once said there are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.
In May 2019, 90-year-old Harley became the latter, turning his 89-year-old housemate, Alice, into a member of the second group on Carter’s list.
“I became a nurse overnight,” said Alice, who now cares for Harley around the clock.
Except for some arthritis pain, Alice is in remarkably good health. Before Harley’s stroke, she enjoyed getting out, shopping, and occasionally visiting the casino. But since May, Harley’s challenges have limited Alice’s own mobility. Now, despite the fact that she has a vehicle and is able to drive, even a simple trip to the grocery store is difficult.
Alice is committed to Harley’s care. And she knows that to care for him, she must care for herself. She makes regular trips to her chiropractor to care for her back pain, and while keeping Harley company, she pedals on a portable exercise device to keep her muscles working. And she accepts help where available.
She has help getting Harley in and out of bed several times a week and also with bathing. The former couple’s children and even their children’s friends also come by to help.
And every day around lunchtime, Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels arrives with Harley’s food for the day. Alice said the meals mean she doesn’t have to worry about what she will prepare for Harley. And she can rest easy knowing that he has the nutrition he needs.
“They help me a lot, because I can’t go grocery shopping,” Alice said. As for her own meals, she relies on the occasional shopping trip to stock up on frozen dinners.
She also appreciates the company that her Meals on Wheels delivery provides. Caregiving, Alice said, can be a lonely job.
Alice said she is happy to see Harley growing stronger, thanks to her care and the corps of support she has assembled for him, including the daily deliveries from Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels.