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A Caregiver’s Journey: Roland’s Story

For Roland G. of Andover, the respite care he receives enhances his life immeasurably. His wife Diane, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2015, recently lost the ability to walk.

“I was ready to ask for help,” he recalls.

He’d been experiencing bouts of anxiety, the result of a self-imposed “do it all” mentality that can lead to rapid burnout and exhaustion.

Roland pays for these services on a private basis, but Elder Services provides care management and clinical supervision through Maureen Callahan, care manager, and Samantha Meas, R.N. from the agency’s Home Care program.

“We went from nothing to having home health aides three times per week.” It means a lot for my own sense of well-being to have someone come on a regular basis.”

Now that Diane’s condition has deteriorated, the aides come Monday to Friday, two hours per day. The home health aides are at the “support level,” specially trained for consumers with dementia.

Roland describes them as kind, thorough, and highly observant, caring for Diane in every sense of the word, from monitoring her condition to watching for bedsores. In addition, they assist him by cleaning the house. This allows Roland to go to the doctor, shop at the grocery store, and complete other errands.

“And it takes a great load off my mind,” he adds.

Now in his late 70s, Roland is retired from a career as an electrical engineer. Diane had worked as a math teacher at Reading High School for 25 years. Prior to the pandemic, they saw their son in Lexington frequently, but now, out of necessity, he has reduced his visits to twice per month.

After a fall in June, Diane spent a stint in rehab at Prescott House in North Andover. This was a difficult ordeal because the couple had to communicate from a distance due to COVID restrictions and Roland was unsure whether Diane even recognized him in a mask. Roland recently had a cataract removed. The surgery went fine, with him wearing an eye patch for just one night.

The care his wife receives from Elder Services combined with a good doctor who makes house calls has relieved the feeling he has to do it all on his own.

“I feel pretty comfortable to deal with all the issues,” he says, adding that he reads and walks to relax.

Today, many men find themselves in the demanding role of caregiver. Without hesitating, Roland encourages anyone in a similar situation to ask for help.

“You need to keep on the ground to move forward. You can try some help and see how it goes.”

Of his present situation, living with Diane, he says, “It’s so good to have her home.”

Visit our Family Caregiver Support Program for more information.