North Shore Elder Services (NSES) honors Carolyn Lavorante of Lynnfield with the 2018 Family Caregiver Award.
Carolyn and John Lavorante (ages 80 and 84 respectively), will be married sixty years later this year. For roughly the past ten years, Carolyn has been helping John maneuver through his diagnosis of vascular dementia.
Despite Carolyn’s humility about the role she assumes with devotion and love, John is well aware of how deserving his wife is to be honored as a special caregiver.
“If it was not for her, I do not know where I would be. She has been wonderful to me. She is so strong.”
Caregiving brings many rewards but also many challenges. Both John and Carolyn admit that it takes a lot of patience to be not just a caregiver, but also a care recipient. John was always independent and now dementia forces him to be reliant on Carolyn with tasks he once managed on his own. Life has brought many changes that together they face on a daily basis.
Carolyn is encouraging to John, pointing out how much he is able to take care of himself and how well he is doing.
As a veteran, John has benefited from Veterans Affairs. John is very thankful to the VA because “they have helped me a lot.” However, there are no outside services being utilized at this time because Carolyn is the person taking on the role in its entirety.
Carolyn came to NSES four years ago to attend a Caregiver Support group, which came highly recommended to her by a close friend who was also caregiving.
“The support group helps me know how to best help John and how to help myself. It is a safe place to say whatever it is you are feeling. It is confidential. Everyone in the group is going through something similar. No one judges. Everyone wants to be helpful. People come up with great ideas. Kathy (Perrella) and Pat (McMahon) (group leaders) are wonderful. They share resources that you might not know about.”
North Shore Elder Services offers both a daytime and evening caregiver support group twice a month. To find out more about the program and how it might benefit you or someone you know, check out our website at https://nselder.org/family-caregiver-support-program/
The support group is a lifeline for Carolyn. When you are in the midst of caregiving, you can feel all alone but being part of a group where others understand your challenges is a relief to Carolyn.
Kathy Perrella contributes Carolyn’s calmness to setting the tone for others in the caregiver group. “Carolyn is a valuable asset to the group. She is generous in spirit. During her four years of coming to the group, Carolyn has really come into her role as a caregiver. She has been “there” so she is able to offer sage advice to others. Carolyn is reliable, calm, and she can always laugh.”
Carolyn understands what she needs to do to keep herself healthy, happy, and able to cope. She credits walking four times a week with a friend as a positive and necessary therapy. She does the “Mall Walk” and then gets busy with all of her life errands after her walks.
John attends a day program three days a week. Carolyn drives him there and back. His participation in the program allows her time to herself and to running the household. Initially he was not sold on the idea of attending three days per week but he has made friends and met other veterans, which has made it a better experience.
John and Carolyn have two sons and a daughter living in the area. There are grandchildren and great grandchildren in their lives. Their family brings them great joy. John loves to have the children and grandchildren visit. They have a lot of fun with family and work at keeping traditions like taking the whole family out for Thanksgiving dinner and getting together for Christmas Eve. When they discuss the possibility of visiting John’s brother in Florida, John hedges saying, “I will miss all the family too much. Growing up in an Italian household, family was always a big thing for me.”
A positive attitude and determination are part of Carolyn’s make up. She has always had a sense of humor and uses that to keep herself moving forward.
Carolyn sees her caregiving as an opportunity to perform a role that is very fulfilling. She wants no regrets and to that end, she continues to do everything she can for John as his advocate and wife. “I am open to all suggestions. I want to know that I have done the best I can for John.”
North Shore Elder Services honors Carolyn Lavorante and the many caregivers we encounter who make daily sacrifices and commit themselves to this role. On Wednesday, February 13, we will be celebrating Carolyn and other community leaders at our 10th Annual We Give Thanks Awards Reception from 6-9PM at the offices of North Shore Elder Services. If you would like to join in the celebrations, you can purchase tickets at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/wgt/event/795637/.