My mother should not only be Caregiver of the Month, but Caregiver of the Century. –Deborah Schultz, daughter
My father has had Alzheimer’s for about 12 years. I realize that other people may have cared for loved ones longer, but my mother has cared for 3 other members of our family with Alzheimer’s. Both of my father’s parents had the disease and her mother had it also. She began caregiving over 30 years ago.
Wow! I agree that Mabel having a record of being a caregiver over the span of 30 years for her husband, her parents, and her in-laws should be dubbed “Caregiver of the Century.” What she has done and currently does for her husband takes a big heart, plenty of patience, and enormous endurance.
– Former caregiver for her husband
As a caregiver for my father’s parents she often drove over 60 miles round trip to take them to various doctor’s appointments, grooming appointments, and to make sure they had food. Even though their daughter lived only a few blocks away, my aunt was a single working parent, and it would have been impossible for her to add one more burden to all with all her other responsibilities.
My mother always wanted to be a writer. Despite the time restraint of taking care of her own 5 children, she did what she needed to do to help out with her in-laws. Her personal career objectives were put on hold as she cared for them without complaint or a feeling of sacrifice. It was just something she knew needed to be done, and she was the most capable of providing care. Writing was something she fit into her spare time.
Eventually my grandparents were placed in a care facility. Grandpa died after living there only a couple of weeks. Grandma died a few years later. It wasn’t very long after Alzheimer’s once again reared its ugly head as my other grandmother, my mother’s mother, started developing the same kinds of symptoms. The youngest of three girls, my mother lived closer than her sisters who lived two states away in Washington. The drive this time was over a 150 miles. After a few years of long-distance caregiving, my mother helped her parents sell their small farm and moved them to their own house only a few blocks from hers.
My grandfather was pretty self-sufficient and my mother found a friend who was willing to be a full-time, caregiver. She still took time and sacrificed to help care for her parents, continuing to drive them where they needed to go and take care of other things she could help them with for over 4 years.
My father began exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s around the year 2000. At first his symptoms were mild and it was physically easy to care for his needs. He was always a gregarious person and loved being around people. His “forgetfulness” was easily forgiven. As the disease advanced and the final diagnosis came from the medical profession, the emotional toll was much greater.
Many of us become caregivers the first time with love and understanding, however not many of us would actually do it again knowing how difficult it is. For Mabel Ann Romick to have been a caregiver for 30 years is truly noteworthy. – Caregiver for a friend
Taking care of your parents is somewhat a natural progression of life.Having to lock the front door and hide car keys from your spouse, to trick him into remembering you as his wife, and all of the other ramifications of the disease is another story. My mother does this with dignity, love, and a sense of humor; once again taking it in stride as just part of her life. Her frustrations are taken out in the shower, where no one can hear. She finds solace in the blog that she began about her experiences with Alzheimer’s 24-7 , and the support from family and friends old and new she finds in online forums and social media.
Anyone who has cared for four family members with Alzheimer’s over 30 years deserves a gold medal, let alone Caregiver of the Month. And she blogs to boot!
– Caregiver for his wife and leader of a caregiver support group
My parents were hit by a drunk driver in January of 2010. My mother was thrown out of the driver’s side window landing 10 feet from her car. My father was not injured where he sat in the passenger seat. Hospitalized for a broken neck, ribs, cracked skull and contusions on her head and hip, we continued my father’s care in their home. We hired help., Until the accident, my mother at age 80 was taking total care of my father.
Five months later she returned home to resume her responsibilities, caring for my father now with hired help. She continues to provide support for him, both physically, helping the CNA with bathing, the bathroom, dressing and doctor’s appointments. His caregivers are in their home from 10 AM until after his dinner and bath, usually about 7:00 PM. The rest of the time she is on her own, though family is close by if she needs them.
Mabel Ann has caregiving in her blood. I think that she may not know how to be in this world if she were not caring for another family member. To be as physically injured as she was and then return to caring for someone else, I am awestruck! — Geriatric care professional
I am the oldest of five, and I moved to Utah from California after an early retirement from my career as a special education teacher. Because of my teaching background caregiving to me is just something that is and has been part of my life. When I received the call about my parent’s accident, my siblings decided I would be the one to help with my dad while my mother was recuperating. Because my grandfather passed so quickly after being placed in a care facility, we all determined that would not happen on our watch. We would keep Dad at home until Mom came back and let her make the decision. Thankfully my children were all grown. I left Utah with an open ticket, really not knowing how long it would be before I returned home.
She sounds like an amazing woman who has cared for her parents and her husband for the last 30 years, despite her own injuries in an automobile accident.
– Retired nurse and former caregiver
Taking care of my dad was really no more difficult than working with my 12-13 year-old special education students. But there were things I had to quickly learn. I knew I could not do this on my own, and was amazed my mother had been able to do so for so long. Dad and I visited a day-care facility and quickly found it wouldn’t be a good solution. He had rapidly retrogressed in the week he was in the hospital after the accident and we determined we needed help. How we found our present caregiver can only be described as an answer to prayer. He is a Godsend allowing me to return home, in a few months and feeling confident my parents would be cared for in the best possible way.
What a touching story! And to care for so many loved ones with Alzheimer’s, she seems very deserving of the honor. More of her story is here: http://www.alzheimers24-7.com/about/ I also like that her story includes involving professional help — realizing that she can’t always do it alone. — Social media marketer focused on supporting caregivers
Being a caregiver 24/7 would be difficult for anyone, much less someone my mother’s age.
Makes one ask, “When will it ever end?” People like Mabel give the people they care for dignity, and make the world a better place. — Former caregiver for his father-in-law
I try to go back to California a few times a year to give her respite from the constant demands of a husband-child in a grown-up body. Just the fact I can be there for her has also given me the benefit of knowing my father again. He isn’t the man who raised me or the grandfather who played with my children. But he is a special man and sometimes I have the privilege of straddling our world and the Alzheimer’s world and being briefly recognized by him. This is all the reward that I need.
Nominated by daughter Deborah Schultz
Edited TCV Ed.
Ms. Romick has spent the better part of an entire lifetime providing care to/for one family member or another. Her life reflects the actions of a loving and giving person. What a beautiful life. — Nursing Home Administrator