Constituent Spotlight: Beverly Rogers
Caregiver extraordinaire offers her brand of ‘Homebaked Wisdom’ to fellow journeyers
Beverly Rogers vowed 41 years ago to love her husband “in sickness and in health.” She considered it an unbreakable commitment before God.
So as her husband Amos descended “down the rabbit hole” of Alzheimer’s over 12 difficult years, Beverly lovingly cared for him every step of the way. She also founded an Alzheimer’s support group for other caregivers because she knew they needed a lot of help, guidance and fellowship from those traveling the same road.
“I went to my minister at New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson,” explained Beverly, a resident of Country Club Hills. “She brought in a representative from the Alzheimer’s Association to talk to me and others with the same dilemma. “We talked about forming a support group, and I decided to start one at the church in 2008. We pray and cry together and try to show each other support. For me, the biggest piece was self-care. As a caregiver, you’re joined at the hip, so you lose your independence and the relationship you once had with that person. We also talked about grieving, because you grieve your loss from the moment of diagnosis.”
Amos passed away at the age of 71 in January, but Beverly continues to facilitate support groups. She has also become an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association of Illinois, advocating for Alzheimer’s related public policy issues, including research funding, prevention and care initiatives.
In November, Beverly received the 2013 Elizabeth McGown Caregiver Legacy Award for her work in motiving and inspiring others in their role as caregivers of older adults. The award is presented by mmLearn.org, a program of Morningside Ministries in San Antonio, Texas, a not-for-profit, faith-based organization that provides free online training videos for caregivers of older adults.
Beverly says one of her missions is to empower caregivers. In fact, her card reads: “Caregiver Empowerment Coach. Helping you navigate the caregiver’s journey.”
“It was important for me to be a voice for Amos and make sure he had the quality of life that I knew he deserved as he transitioned to eternity. He was on his destination and I was the porter. I wanted to make sure he was comfortable, well taken care of, and people did not mistreat him. A lot of people don’t have an advocate while they’re in the hospital, rehab or a nursing home. I want to help empower caregivers to be an advocate for someone they love. There are some things they can do to ensure that their loved one is well taken care of.”
Beverly believes the need for caregivers is increasing as a large segment of the population ages.
“I want to get us prepared for the Baby Boomers. Everyone needs to know about the 10 warning signs—whether it’s your parent or you. Families need to have their legal house in order. People without powers of attorney or a living will have the hardest time once they lose their memory and cannot speak for themselves. A caregiver then has to come in, figure out how to get past the privacy laws, take care of the paperwork, and decide whether you should go into a nursing home. If you don’t have someone who acts on your behalf, a court will end up making the decisions, or family members might fight over how you live the rest of your life.”
Caregivers also need to be wary of health care facilities, she said. That’s why she tirelessly advocates to elected officials for more quality health care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“There are a lot of nursing homes, day cares and health care agencies out there, but many of them are inadequate, so seniors get taken. Some day cares say that they have activities, but seniors sit at a table and do nothing all day. There are a lot of pop-up agencies that are in it for the money.”
Beverly recently wrote a book titled “Homebaked Wit & Wisdom: The Resurrection of Common Sense.” The free e-book is available at http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstub. Enter the promo code 10600000005914.
“It’s filled with anecdotes that my sister and I grew up with, reflective thoughts, as well as thoughts about my journey with Amos.”
Beverly is the mother of two adult children, Angela Williams and Gerald Lott, and grandmother to Kyra, 4, and eight-year-old twins Desiree and Javier.
For more information on caregiver empowerment and life coaching, visit Beverly’s facebook site at B.J. Rogers.