In 2006, Al Bugeau’s wife of 55 years, Barbara, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “I discovered that Barbara had memory problems when she could not remember how to drive to the post office less than a mile away. She would also frequently get lost driving short distances over very familiar routes,” he said.
A Day In the Life Of: Norwood Adult Day Health Care Center
For three years, Al and his family (two daughters, grandchildren, along with nieces and nephews) were Barbara’s caregivers. “Everyone pitched in. We all agreed on a strategy.”
Over time, however, Barbara’s disease progressed and it became clear keeping Barbara safe at home while trying to maintain some sort of semblance to everyday life was becoming unmanageable. “We all had our own personal obligations and respective endeavors,” Bugeau said, “we adjusted our lives to take care of Barbara. We needed another option.”
A chance meeting with Mike O’Donnell, Family Service Coordinator at Norwood Adult Day Health Center, led to a conversation about the benefits of adult day health – nursing care, helpful assistance and increased socialization. It was exactly what the family needed, when they needed it.
Barbara began attending Norwood Adult Day Health Center five days a week with transportation to and from their home provided each day where she really flourished.
“Barbara was a school teacher and a quiet soul,” Bugeau recalled, “She didn’t want to go at first, but after a few visits she found a group of friends and activities where she really fit in.
“Norwood Adult Day Health Care gave our family three things: peace of mind, freedom and support,” Bugeau said. “We were secure in the knowledge that Barbara was being cared for by a dedicated, loving, competent and compassionate staff.”
“We had the freedom to continue working and living with some sort of normalcy as a family given the demands of caregiving,” Bugeau noted.
“The Center also provided a support structure enabling us to benefit from our shared experiences.” Bugeau was a regular participant in the Center’s monthly caregiver support group, designed to assist individuals and families in understanding the challenges of living with illness, disability and aging.
“We help people become more effective and confident as caregivers,” O’Donnell says. “Al and his family were already a cohesive unit. They communicated with one another, they supported one another. The support they gave Barbara at home only added to the care she received at Norwood Adult Day Health.”
Bugeau agrees, “Any caregiver will tell you, caregiving is not only extremely demanding, it can be a nightmare as well. It is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week job. No one is equipped to deal with the issues involved.”
Barbara attended Norwood Adult Day Health for a total of six years until her health declined in 2017 to the point where she lost her ability to communicate, or to feed herself. “Ultimately, she wanted to be at home,” Bugeau remembered.
Throughout his family’s experience with Adult Day Health, Bugeau developed his own Caregiver’s Vocabulary of Words and Ideas to Live By. “A” is for attitude, which determines how well you cope with the challenges of care giving. “I” is for involvement; you benefit from the involvement and experience of others. “P” is for patience; not only a virtue, but a great source of comfort.”
What is healthy care giving?
To Al Bugeau, “healthy care giving is remaining healthy while giving care.”
“If you’re not taking care of yourself, if you’re depressed, you can’t take care of yourself, let alone anyone else,” Bugeau counsels. “You cannot do it alone. You need a wingman.”
In memory of Barbara Bugeau
b. August 28, 1939
d. February 19, 2018
This article was featured in the Community VNA 2017 Annual Report – View the rest of the report here.