Beverly Hayes Honored with 2016 Elder Caregiver of the Year Award

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By Judie Holcomb-Pack

November is National Family Caregivers month and the perfect time for Triad Retirement Living Association (TRLA) to hold its tenth annual luncheon to honor caregivers for their selfless service in providing compassionate care for seniors. Barbara Springs, President of TRLA, said, “This luncheon is our premier event that we delight in honoring the dedication, compassion, hard work, love, support and friendship that Triad caregivers so freely give to their family members, residents and clients.” She noted, “We’re celebrating all our heros who are here today.”

Among the 27 nominations that were received, one rose to the top – Beverly Hayes. When she was named as the 2016 Elder Caregivers Award recipient, she said, “I’m speechless! Everyone else was so much more deserving.”

This is a typical comment for Beverly, who doesn’t see what she did to care for her husband and her mother as being worthy of recognition. She just saw their needs and did what she could to meet them. But her story is one of unselfish devotion.

When Beverly’s husband Jerry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she went into action, researching the disease on the Internet, talking to professionals and devising a plan for Jerry’s care. She learned that art could help improve the cognitive ability of Parkinson’s patients, so she purchased art supplies and helped him paint beautiful abstract pictures. (For Seniors Only
featured Jerry and his art in our February 2015 issue).

As it became more difficult for Jerry to travel, she would take him out to dinner at his favorite places, although it was a struggle for her. When Jerry could no longer stay by himself during the day, she organized a team of family and friends to take morning and afternoon shifts to stay with him. She would often be up most of the night comforting him when he had nightmares or hallucinations, and then go to work the next day at her “other” full-time job as Director of Communications for Winston-Salem Homebuilders. She treasured their family’s last trip to the beach at Thanksgiving, because just before last Christmas, Jerry suddenly passed away. Knowing how much he loved Elvis, Beverly had Elvis songs played at his funeral.

At the same time that Beverly was caring for her husband, she was also looking after her 85-year-old mother, who lived on a farm in Walnut Cove. After her step-father passed away, Beverly took on the overwhelming job of organizing a packing and cleaning crew of family and friends to help downsize, sell the farm, and move her Mom into a small apartment in Winston-Salem to be closer to family. Just when she thought she could finally relax, her mother fell and began a sudden decline into dementia. Bev again had to rally the troops to help downsize from the apartment to a room in a memory care unit. She decorated her Mom’s room with all of the things she loved, including her cockatiel, Mac. Bev was the person who received the middle-of-the-night calls about falls, who handled the finances, doctor’s appointments and meetings with caregivers. Three months later, her mother was placed in Hospice care, where she passed away this past September.

Through it all, Beverly’s faith in God and His direction for her life never wavered. Being honored as Caregiver of the Year was a boost to her spirits; she admitted her emotions have been on a roller roaster this past year.

Bruce McReynolds, co-chair of the Caregivers luncheon, noted about the nominees: “In reviewing the 27 submissions, I found one common thread – the caregivers were good at organizing their resources to meet the needs of their patient or loved one.” He continued, “The finalist represented different environments and a wide spectrum of caregiving.”

Co-chair Alison Kennedy said, “I find working on the Elder Caregiver Awards committee incredibly rewarding.” She mentioned that often caregivers only hear negative comments about what they’re doing wrong. “The awards luncheon honors them for what they’re doing right.”

Since 2006, TRLA has honored over 90 caregivers at the annual luncheon. TRLA is an organization of senior service industry professionals whose mission is to serve our community through education, networking, marketing and referrals. For more information, visit TRLA.info.

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