Caregiver gets lots of prayer, support

Published 11:13 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bill Worsham and his wife Beverly just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary in the beginning of July. Unfortunately, Bill isn’t sure if she even knows it due to her Alzheimer’s disease.

They met while Beverly was the librarian at Virginia Tech, and Bill was a student who had just got out of the service and was attending school on a GI Bill.

“She was very smart and she helped me,” Bill said.

Starting then, they spent all their time with each other and they began a life together.

They have two children, David and Sarah, and one granddaughter, Riley. Bill eventually became the principal of Windsor High School and Beerly became the assistant director at Walter Cecil Rawls Library. Many times she even served as the interim director.

She always loved to read. Most weeks she would read two to four books. He would have meetings and she would go with him. Even as they got older they spent every moment they could together.

Five years ago, the time they spent together changed course. Beverley was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The symptoms of her disease started showing about a month after she had a double mastectomy. She was traveling out of town to a friend’s house, a place she had been many times, and but she got lost. According to Bill, this behavior was very out of the ordinary for Beverly.

They went to the doctor after that and she was referred to a neurologist. Afterward, she found out that she had the beginning stages of the Alzheimer’s disease.

Bill said that moment was his biggest heartbreak, and the most difficult part of his life started.

“The toughest thing about it is she is not able to be with me all the time anymore,” he said.

After doing lots of research and talking to many doctors, Bill found out that multiple things can trigger the disease, anesthesia being one of them.

He said the first couple of years were the toughest for him because he wasn’t sure how to deal with it all. Even though every day is still hard, he says he now has people he can talk to unlike before. Bill was reluctant to join the support group in Franklin, but after much encouragement, he joined.

“From the first meeting, it was better. In a way it is relieving. I know other people are going through what I am going through. I get ideas how to handle different situations. And when I walk out, for a few moments I feel relief.

“I’m not alone anymore,” he said.

Bill said that many caregivers, like him, get so caught up caring for their loved one that they forget to take care of themselves. The support group helps caregivers remember to take care of themselves and learn coping mechanisms.

“Even Beverly’s team of doctors constantly asks how I am doing,” he continued. “Everybody wants to make sure I am okay, and that is comforting.”

Luckily, Bill has family who help him and others do what they can so they can to give him some time to breathe and just relax. He said he doesn’t know how he would do it without the three people who help take care of Beverley.

“Dot, Darla and Megan are really good with her and they help me a lot. I couldn’t be more pleased with all the help I receive,” he said.

The main symptom Beverley has is the short-term memory loss, and in the past year and a half she has started having seizures, many that have ended with her spending nights in the hospital.

Bill said that Beverley can’t join in conversations, but occasionally she can piece together short sentences — not very often though.

One of the hardest things he has to deal with is that she doesn’t recognize him anymore, and he hasn’t heard her say his name since January.

Their children are having a hard time dealing with this, as well.

“I know it’s hard for them watching their mother go through this and knowing that their mother doesn’t know who they are.”

Bill said that what has gotten his family through these past five years is a lot of prayer and the support group.

“If I could explain to you how different she is after the symptoms of the disease started, the best example I have is that when we got married she made her own wedding dress and when she was pregnant she made her own maternity clothes, and now she doesn’t even know how to put thread through a needle.”

He then explained how hard this disease is to deal with because there isn’t a cure for yet, all there is are medications that help slow the process down, if you catch it in time.

“As a caregiver, I encourage anyone that sees a loved one struggling with memory to immediately go see a doctor,” he said. “It’s hard to watch daily, something is lost every single day.”

Bill said it is vital to raise funds for research and to find cure for this disease.

“It is showing up in people starting at a younger age now and in more people,” he continued. “Just eight people who live within a five mile radius of my house have this disease.”

On Saturday, Sept. 19, the Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern chapter’s first Memory Walk of the six scheduled in the region will be at Constants Wharf, 100 E Constance Road, Suffolk.

He’s encouraging people to either participate in the walk or make a donation to his team, WALKING FOR BEVERLY. To make donations to his family’s team or to join it, please contact Bill Worsham on his cell phone, 859-6976.

Grace Memorial United Methodist Church in Sedley is also making donations for this team and they are still collecting donations. Please contact June Dunlow for more information at 562-5869.

All the donations and sign-ups to join teams should be done by Sunday, Sept. 13.