2014 Nominees Section
Organization: Home Caregiver
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Peggy has entertained with her fantastic tapping at senior facilities all over Southern California. Today that activity has been restricted by her role as caregiver to her husband, Mike, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease Dementia. The above picture shows Peggy and Mike at the 2014 Fourth of July parade in their community.
Why should this person be nominated
The first time you see Peggy Padilla dance, she wows you with the sheer joy and energy of her dance. When you are told her age, you are blown away! Peggy has been a dancer almost since she was born. At 5 years old, she was entertaining at various USO facilities. Today, at 83, she is still dancing and entertaining! At five years old, her mother took her to the USO. At 83, it is Peggy who takes her husband of 57 years, Mike, with her wherever she may be going because he cannot be left alone. Peggy is Mike’s sole caregiver, and she must hire a sitter if she is to go anywhere without Mike. It is becoming far less frequent that she leaves the house.
Peggy has watched as her accomplished, creative, intelligent , athletic husband has fallen victim to the unforgiving degenerative disorder of the central nervous system – Parkinson’s. It is estimated that approximately 1.5 million people in the USA suffer from Parkinson’s. Of those, approximately 20% become diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia. Mike is among that 20%.
At this point Mike, an environmental engineer, industrial hygienist, inventor and boat designer, has few lucid moments. Everyday at 3:00 in the afternoon, the dementia worsens. He must be given medicine every three hours, round the clock. As a result, Peggy is exhausted most of the time. After 10 years of caring for a person suffering from progressing Parkinson’s and dementia, who wouldn’t be?
At 39, Peggy decided to go back to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy. She then attended UCLA and completed a master’s degree in dance movement therapy. She worked at Mesa Vista Psychiatric Hospital as a “dance” therapist for 16 years before retiring.
So Peggy knows the value of movement and makes sure that Mike goes for walks around their community every day. Many days, he can walk, but on increasingly more days, she must push him in his wheelchair. But, they still get outside. I stopped by one day and the three of us went for a walk. It was a good day for Mike as he made it under his own power the entire time.
Once we got back to the house, Peggy settled Mike into his recliner, made sure he was comfortable, ascertained that the TV was on the channel he wanted, asked if he needed anything else, and then went about making the three of us some snacks and drinks. She proudly showed off the awards Mike received in his career, spoke of the patent he held and of the unique boats he designed, built and sold. She spoke of their life together and of the love between them. Conversing was not a simple task as Mike kept interrupting with remonstrative comments and orders for us to stop talking. Peggy remained patiently unflappable, calmly, cheerfully and gently responding no matter how often Mike’s interruptions occurred. I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire the patience, kindness and love she demonstrates everyday in caring for Mike. He is very obviously loved. I have never heard her raise her voice to him, though I know it can’t be easy. Phone conversations are frequently interrupted with his demands and needs. I don’t know how she is capable of the patience she exhibits.
Because the carpet made it difficult for Mike to get around easily with his walker or wheelchair, the carpet was removed. Doorways were widened. “Childproof” locks were placed on the doors, as well as alarms. Knives and other sharp objects have been placed under lock and key because he is occasionally delusional. This month, Mike’s recliner was replaced with a hospital bed, which he can get out of, but cannot get back into without assistance. Peggy is a very petite woman, and, while still strong, it is very difficult for her alone to get Mike back into the bed. If he falls, she must call a neighbor for assistance. Blocks have been placed under the sofa legs raising it high enough that Mike is able to get up off of it under his own power.
Mike and Peggy have one son, Karl,who lives in Virginia and a daughter, Vickie Robertson, who lives in Williamsburg and a granddaughter, Ashley Robertson, in Fairfax, VA. As a result, they can only provide Peggy with encouragement, suggestions and emotional support.
When Mike naps, Peggy will most likely be found in her “dance studio” (an enclosed porch with hardwood floors). Physical activity seems to be her savior! She has recently begun using her boogie board after a 4 year hiatus. She tries to get out every Tuesday, assuming she can find a sitter. She has found a great way to relieve some of the stress she is under. But the stress from isolation and loneliness is very real. If you have a friend like Peggy who is caring for a loved one, please call or drop by to just talk. I know I will be talking to Peggy as often as possible and dropping by to see both Peggy and Mike.
The above picture is of Peggy and Mike at the San Diego County Fair this year. She brought him to the fair with her so that she could dance. She made certain that he was cared for and looked after while she was on stage dancing! Peggy is a marvel!
I just received this information from Peggy who had neglected to tell me this before I submitted her nomination: "I took care of my Mom in our home in Lake San Marcos until she passed and another couple in their home because they were friends, and that's what we are here to do...give TLC." Now I am convinced she is more deserving than ever!