Parkinson's Awareness Month - Meet Mary
Join us as we recognize April as Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement, typically developed at age 60 or older.
Meet Caregiver Hero, Mary:
We are inspired and touched by Mary’s love and dedication as she cared for her sister for so many years, and as they faced the challenges of Parkinson’s disease together. The compassion of a caregiver is life-changing, and Mary is a living example of how valuable caregivers are. We are honored to share Mary’s story with the caregiving community.
“Mary S. is the 69 year-old-sister of Vernia Mae and was her loving caregiver from 2007-2021. In that time, we learned that Vernia Mae suffered from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Mary worked full time while being Vernia's full-time caregiver. Mary woke up every morning to bathe, dress, feed, and comb Vernia's hair before work. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she would then head to work as a Dispatcher for a logistics company. Every day she would come home on her lunch break to feed Vernia lunch and then head back to work to finish her shift.
Once the Stay-at-home order began, Mary completed her work day from home while looking after Vernia. It was during a full year of working from home that Mary witnessed Vernia's memory, mobility, and ability to swallow starting to rapidly decline. Mary made the decision to retire to stay at home with Vernia. When Vernia lost the strength to walk, Mary started wheeling her around the house in her wheelchair. When she could no longer lift her legs to get in the tub, Mary bought a sliding seat chair so that she could still bathe her daily. When Parkinson's robbed Vernia from the ability to use her left arm/hand, Mary rubbed it everyday to help sooth the pain and swelling. When Vernia struggled to speak, Mary communicated on her behalf because she could always tell what Vernia was trying to say. When Vernia was having trouble swallowing, Mary changed her diet as often as necessary to make it easier for her to receive nutrients. When Vernia could no longer move, Mary bathed and fed her from bed, sat by her bedside to keep her company, and sang to her to lift her spirits. On Saturday October 30, 2021 Mary held Vernia's hand and rubbed her shoulders while she took her last breath.
Mary never faltered in the love and care she provided for her older sister. When Vernia was still able to leave the house, Mary made sure that she got to family outings in classy senior clothing and with beautifully styled hair. Mary made sure her skin was moisturized, her teeth were flossed, her glasses were clear, her nails were shaped, her clothes fit well, and that she had her "pocket book" and a brooch. I mention these things because these are special things that Vernia would have done for herself had she still been able. Even when Vernia wasn't aware of who she was anymore, Mary still did those special things to make her try to feel like herself.
Vernia was 18-years-old when Mary was born. Vernia fed her, bathed her, changed her diapers, and to her, wiped her tears and held her hand when she was a baby. Mary was able to do the same for her until her last day. Love from a caregiver is life changing. My family is so grateful that Vernia was dearly loved by her caregiver, sister, and friend, Mary.”
If you are caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s, please view our collection of items curated for their health and comfort.
Jessie Ary is Carewell's Content Coordinator. When Jessie isn't writing for Carewell, she spends her time attempting to climb rocks and traveling throughout the country with her cat, Carrot.