Bill Drinan is North Shore Elder Services’ 2016 recipient of the Family Caregiver Award. Recently we invited Bill to come visit our office and to meet staff members, who applauded his work and congratulated him on his nomination as we walked on our tour. Bill has been caring for his wife Barbara for over twenty-five years when she was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, with the last 2 years restricting Barbara to being bed-bound and needing 24/7 care.
Bill is humble in his acceptance of being a caregiver to be admired. He would not have Barbara anywhere but at home under his watchful and loving eye. It is a role he takes on with no complaints. “We have to deal with what we have….it’s not going to get any better so we have to accept where we are right now.”
We first visited with Bill and Barbara a year ago. (You can find their story on our website at http://nselder.org/blog/in-sickness-and-in-health-a-promise-kept-2/. We talked about how things may be different from then to now. Bill sees the positives first. “Barbara has been more vocal just even in the past few days. It’s been great. I love it. It’s like heaven for me. I have the aides write down what she says if I’m not there and I keep my own list. I think she is happier now because she is smiling more. In the morning when we are cleaning her, I sing to her and if she smiles, I know she is feeling good and we will have a good day. It is tough though because the atrophy is setting in worse now.” Bill treasures the moments that Barbara smiles or laughs and speaks. It is all the little things that bolster his spirits. Bill is in this for the long run.
When Bill is encountering a bad day, he said he tries to step back and take a deep breath and resign himself to what he needs to do to care for Barbara. He finds comfort and joy in listening to his music. He also has a strong network of friends and keeps himself very busy with the Peabody Council on Aging and the chorus “Forever Young” that he belongs to.
When describing the help he has coming into his home seven hours per day, seven days per week, Bill cannot say enough about the home health aides that work alongside him, one of whom has been with Bill and Barbara for almost eight years. He describes North Shore Elder Services (NSES) as being a very good support for himself and feels that NSES is always there for him. Bill is appreciative of the fact that he takes an hour to himself in the mornings and an hour in the afternoons and feels it is plenty of time. Without the hours of care NSES is able to provide, Bill would not have those precious respite hours for himself.
North Shore Elder Services honors Bill Drinan and the many caregivers we encounter who make daily sacrifices and commit themselves to this role. On Tuesday November 15th we will be celebrating Bill and other community leaders at our 8th Annual We Give Thanks Awards & Dinner from 6-9PM at Angelica’s in Middleton, MA. If you would like to join in the celebrations, you can purchase tickets here http://wgt8.bpt.me/.