Even love needs a hand: ASCRC helps caregivers
JANESVILLE A year ago, Bob and Phyllis Schultz were carrying groceries into their Janesville home when Bob fell in the kitchen, suffering a severe finger injury. He was taken to the emergency room and two days later underwent finger surgery at St. Mary’s-Janesville Hospital. While at the hospital, Bob was tested for and positively diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia among the aging.
The diagnosis was not a surprise to Phyllis, who had started noticing symptoms the previous summer.
“He was mowing the lawn all the time,” Phyllis recalled. “He would mow the lawn today and mow it again tomorrow.”
Phyllis said her husband loved being outdoors, but he started watering the flowers every day.
“Our water bill jumped about $200,” Phyllis said.
Soon the wife-turned-caregiver sought out the Alzheimer’s Support Center of Rock County for assistance. The center is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2013.
The ASCRC has a support group in Whitewater which meets on the first Thursday of the month, from 1:30 to 3 p.m., at Fairhaven's Hearthstone, 425 W. North St. For more information, call Darlene at (262) 473-2140.
“Many times people don’t realize, when the diagnosis (of Alzheimer’s) comes in, everything that they’re going to need -- down the road,” said Mary Frederick, program manager at the Alzheimer’s Support Center in Janesville.
The ASCRC offers a variety of programs to provide local support for families and caregivers struggling with dementia (An ARSC group .
“That’s what we’re here for, to help (families) with the long journey -- and it is a long journey,” Frederick said.
While the Schultzes’ children and grandchildren don’t live nearby, Phyllis said she also gets a helping hand from her sister, Mary Drum, and brother-in-law, Stan Drum.
Dealing with the disease
The Schultzes, both 78, met while in high school in Milton and were married in June 1956. Bob became an educator and was a social studies teacher and coach in the Iowa-Grant school district, later moving to Walworth, where he became a guidance counselor at Big Foot High School, and eventually retired as principal of the school.
The couple raised three children.
Phyllis said Bob’s dementia has progressed since his diagnosis exactly a year ago, Feb. 10, 2012. She now has to hide Bob’s medications and gives him his pills each day. She put tape over the light switches by the front door, so Bob wouldn’t constantly turn them on and off.
Phyllis added that Bob became restless, suffering from what is known as Sundowners Syndrome.
“From about 4:30 or 5 o’clock, until the time he went to bed, he couldn’t sit for more than two minutes,” Phyllis said. “And he’d be up and down in the middle of the night.”
Phyllis said she would get up at 1:30 a.m. or 2 a.m. and find Bob fully dressed, watching TV.