CONGRATULATIONS Sheri Zschocher for being recognized as The Caregiver’s Voice Caregiver of the Month with a Heart of Gold!
Sheri has been an open and honest example of how to share [the highs and lows] of life. Her openness has encouraged those who are going through difficulty to share their own experiences. She has also made it clear that, though her experience is painful and difficult, it is not insurmountable; that finding hope and promise in the small things of life are what brings true joy! She has been an inspiration to me! — Nominated by Susan Richter
Sheri shares her experiences openly and lets other people know they are not alone, which gives them strength. She seems to be highly thought of given the number of nominations she received. — Former Caregiver for Father in Law and CotM Selection Committee Member
Sheri’s brother writes:
Sheri Zschocher is my sister. Growing up, Sheri was always the most social member of the family, able to make friends and relate to others with tremendous ease. She valued relationships above almost everything else in her life.
It is that love of relationships that makes her story most poignant, since it is the nature of her relationship with her husband, Robert that has been her biggest challenge in life. Robert was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago. He had exhibited symptoms for quite some time before, but those signs had not been interpreted correctly.
While dealing with her own health issues, Sheri became Robert’s caregiver as his symptoms made it impossible for him to continue working. Sheri then became the breadwinner for her family while raising two beautiful daughters.
If that weren’t enough, two years ago, our mother was involved in a car accident, which left her paralyzed from the waist down. Sheri immediately came from her home in Minnesota to San Antonio to help my father and me navigate the maddening world of modern health care. Her help, both emotionally and pragmatically, was invaluable to Dad and me.
There were so many good things shared in the nominations of Sheri. But I couldn’t help, as a writer, keying in on the blog she writes to help others walking this same journey. I spent some time reading the entries, and I concur with those who nominated Sheri. She deserves to win the Heart of Gold. — Author and CotM Selection Committee Member
As an outlet, Sheri created a blog, Living with Bob and ‘Al’ [her husband, Bob and the other person in the room, Al for Alzheimer’s], where she shares her experiences through clever, original, and often heartbreaking stories and poems. These blog entries have provided comfort and encouragement to many others who are dealing with Alzheimer’s patients.
The fact that Alzheimer’s has robbed her of one of her most precious relationships is heartbreaking enough. The fact that she must live in the shadow of that relationship, every day seeing the physical embodiment of that relationship, while realizing that the person within is slowly withdrawing into that shadow is even more so.
My sister, Sheri. I couldn’t be prouder. — Scott Leibowitz
A reader of Sheri’s blog writes:
Since I have an Alzheimer’s blog about coping with this dreaded disease, my day always begins by checking Sheri’s blog: Living in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s. She is both courageous and kind. She is a strong woman who shows much endurance, love, and kindness in spite of the challenges Alzheimer’s has brought into her life. She is a kind and loving person and I hope she wins the nomination. She certainly deserves it. — Sandy Spencer
Sheri Zschocher’s six nominations [five published with permission] are an attention-getter! Early onset dementia is a heart breaker, especially accompanied by other issues described in these nominations. The standout is the blog she created to help herself and others—a caregiver with a true heart of gold. — Caregiver for his parents and CotM Selection Committee Member
Sheri’s parents write:
It is a great honor for my wife and me to nominate our daughter Sheri Zschocher for the caregiver of the month. We know that many readers will think, Well, of course they are proud of their daughter! But we have witnessed first hand how she has handled this lifetime job.
People need to understand that there is more to being a caregiver than just the hard, day after day, after day of juggling the role of being the caregiver for a spouse who was diagnosed in his mid-60s. There is being a mom to two daughters and being the primary wage earner for the family. There is losing her home and her job with the health insurance that goes with it. Finally, there is rushing to her mom’s side, 1,500 miles away, after her mom was involved in a terrible car accident. She has since found a new job and a little sun is now shining on her and her family.
Most of the above can be said about most caregivers. But the real reason she deserves this honor is her decision and dedication to share with the world the detailed daily [life] of living with Alzheimer’s. To understand the heart of our daughter, “Living with Bob and Al,” will leave you with a tear in your eye or a smile on your face. Sheri’s blog will fill your heart full of understanding of what it means to be an Alzheimer’s caregiver. — Marvin and Sylvia Leibowitz
Sheri Zschocher is obviously well loved and respected by those who know her and about the wonderful job she is doing as a caregiver. She must be one compassionate and fantastic individual who is deserving of being honored. — Director of a Caregiver Resource Center
Sheri’s sister writes:
Throughout her adult life, Sheri has faced one agonizing situation after another. While her husband’s diagnosis with early onset Alzheimer’s disease answered so many questions about his behavior, it plunged Sheri into a world of isolation and despair. She has been forced to set aside her own dreams and desires in order to care for her husband and had to rewrite the map of her family’s life, carefully guiding their children down their new life’s path. And on that path, Sheri has had to deal with – either directly or emotionally – her own cancer; her daughters’ health issues; her mother’s crippling car accident; and severe financial crises.
Taking care of someone with early onset dementia is like having the husband die while the family is still young. Having to deal with so many financial and health issues makes it much more challenging. Retired Nurse and former CG for her mother and CotM Selection Committee Member
While these circumstances could have, and sometimes still do, get the best of her, somehow, through all that darkness, a new and different, stronger Sheri emerged. She has found an inner strength she didn’t know she had. In her blog she has found an outlet for thoughts, feelings and emotions that would otherwise have remained unspoken. She’s re-discovered a long forgotten (or perhaps suppressed?) talent for writing expressive stories and has done so from very unique, sometimes sad, sometimes funny – but always touching – perspective. Sheri has somehow found her voice and through the “shadows” she has managed to find the light. I can think no other more deserving of recognition as Caregiver of the Month. — Vicki Robinson
TheCaregiversVoice.com editor, Brenda Avadian, writes: Sheri’s nomination was especially inspiring when her family drew together and nominated her in such a heartfelt way. During a recent telephone call, her sister Vicki explained that Sheri sent her family a note about her guest article on The Caregiver’s Voice website. Unknown to Sheri, her sister Vicki also spotted the Caregiver of the Month Call for Nominations on the home page and sent in her nomination. So did her brother Scott and father, Marv, and other fans of Sheri’s website. Nominations have been edited. Read more about Sheri and her caregiving journey plus more photos at The Many Shadows of Alzheimer’s
Until then, HAPPY (belated) 69th BIRTHDAY, Bob!
Now, it’s YOUR TURN to nominate TCV’s Caregiver of the Month of May.
Click on) Caregiver of the Month Nominations for easy guidelines.
Due April 10, 2012