When you walk into the home shared by Ted and his Aunt Shirley, you are greeted by an atmosphere of love. When Shirley was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 82, Ted, then 70, selflessly took over the care of his aunt.
After a few years, Ted recognized that Shirley was growing lethargic. For Christmas, he surprised her with a deer head chihuahua named Sparky. Sparky and Shirley fell in love immediately.
“She was so happy her face lit up,” says Ted. “Sparky brought her back the happiness and joy she was missing.”
“To be a caregiver you have to have a sincere interest in helping someone,” says Ted. “You have to be interested in keeping your loved one healthy and happy; whether in pain or feeling down. That’s what caregiving is all about, and it’s no easy task. It’s like being a mother to a baby.”
Many feel caregiving is all-consuming. The Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, Inc. (AAAPP) provides respite care for people liked Ted. Respite care allows them to get out of the house and have some time for themselves, knowing that their loved ones are safely being cared for at home.