Lawrence and Edna McDonald have been married more than 45 years. They met in San Diego when he was a sailor. He served the USA for 20 years. They are proud parents of a daughter, Myisha.
This couple had a great life together. Lawrence was very active, and he and Edna enjoyed dancing and involving themselves in social activities.
One day Myisha saw her Dad drive by their home several times. She went outside, waved him down and asked why he didn’t stop at their residence. He confessed, “I couldn’t remember where I lived.” Edna consulted a physician, and learned that Lawrence had Alzheimer’s disease.
She was devastated. The man she loved was gone, and the person in their home couldn’t engage his wife, or daughter, like he had for many years. Over time Lawrence concluded Edna was his co-worker, but not his wife.
Edna was determined to keep Lawrence at home, and she called many agencies seeking assistance. Our Senior Companion Program (SCP) offered by Lutheran Social Services in San Diego was the only agency to reply.
We provide respite care: non-medical support in homes, so caregivers can take a break. At no cost to the family, a participating senior comes into the home, so the primary responsible person can relax, renew and revitalize on an emotional, physical and often spiritual level.
Geraldine McCue, the LSS companion who walked into that situation, related to Lawrence heart-to-heart. Before she assisted LSS, she traveled to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and cared for people displaced by that natural disaster.
“Geri” shares love from her heart with those who are in greatest need,” Edna said of this special person in her family’s life. “When she came into our family, God sent me an Angel.”
Geri engages Lawrence at a level he can embrace and accept, and at the same time gives Edna a chance three times a week to have a few hours of solace. One of those mornings she goes to dialysis, something she had not been able to do until Geri joined her family. She was denying her own health needs because of her compassion for her husband. Alzheimer’s disease robbed Lawrence and Edna of the past they shared together. But the LSS Senior Companion Program helped them reclaim the present in a way that offered solace and togetherness for each.