Husband becomes caregiver for wife with Alzheimer's

Caregivers look for alternatives to nursing homes

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tony Wagoner never expected to become a round-the-clock caregiver, but in his words, "You never know what's going to happen in life."

Tony Wagoner and his wife, Pat Wagoner, moved to Central Florida from North Carolina in 1979 and never looked back. After he retired in 2012, Tony and Pat Wagoner took a trip to Yellowstone National Park, the beginning of what was expected to be new chapter filled with adventure. 

He said that was their last trip together.

"Alzheimer's disease, saw the beginnings of it in about 2012 with some memory issues, forgetting how to be able to adjust the thermostat, she started having some issues with the stove," Tony Wagoner said.

Pat Wagoner's health began to decline, and by 2015 she was hospitalized and officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. By September 2016, Pat Wagoner needed 24-hour care and her husband became her full-time caregiver.

"I said, 'Don't you worry, I'm going to take care of you,' I said, 'We're going to see this thing through right here in this house,' and I still say that," Tony Wagoner said.

Tony Wagoner learned from his wife's doctors and nurses how to get her into a routine, and what to do to help her sleep. But quickly he realized he couldn't do it alone.

"I needed somebody in a real hurry because this happened in the space of a couple a days, where I needed somebody in here around the clock, and the lady there recommended Right at Home," Tony Wagoner said.

Right at Home Orlando is led by owner Nikki Magyar and her husband, Adam. The franchise helps connect caregivers with certified nursing assistants to provide personal care, help cook meals and independently live at home.

"Sometimes your health starts declining because you're putting them first and you're their only support," Magyar said.

That's true and research shows many caregivers experience chronic stress that can add up to serious medical problems.

Right at Home Orlando also offers professional help for people trying to start a conversation with parents or spouses about independent living.

"It happens, and people say it won't happen to me," Tony Wagoner said.

Right at Home has connected Tony Wagoner with three certified nursing assistants during the day and three at night to allow him to sleep. Sundays, he takes on his own.

"When she's in here, I know how she's being taken care of every minute of every day and she gets personalized care too," Tony Wagoner said.

Tony Wagoner said he compared the costs of nursing care, and for now, Right at Home was more affordable. 

"There are some things that pay for home care, like long-term care insurance, the VA," Magyar said.

Magyar also recommends checking with local resources like the Florida Council on Aging, Osceola Council on Aging, Aging Life Care Association, Senior Resource Alliance and Seniors First about options for at-home care.

You can book a free home consultation with Magyar's team here.

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