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The Toughest Job: Challenging times are better together

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Connecting North Alabama by . That was the focus of Friday’s Caregivers College.

TARCOG provided resources for family members and caregivers alike to feel supported and encouraged on their journey. 鶹app’s Marie Waxel and Demetria Green helped facilitate some of their efforts and support for our local caregivers during the annual event.

Being a primary caregiver is often referred to as one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever love. 鶹app caught up with one couple whose love for each other carries them down this challenging road.

“It says for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health till death do us part,” said Margaret Norman. 

For Margaret and Vernon Norman together is the only way.

“Because of the bond that we have had over the years, when it happened to him, there was no thought of us, you know, separating or being apart. We have been one for so long,” explained Margaret Norman.

In 2016, just three weeks after moving to Huntsville from California, her husband Vernon suffered a stroke.

“His right arm, he can’t use. His right leg is very slow. His speech was gravely affected,” she said. “At first, it was difficult for me seeing him trying to walk around. I mean, he used to do marathons and a marathon for him was walking from our bedroom to the car."

Together, they would learn to navigate this challenging road.

“He could dress himself and bathe himself and things like that, but cooking, laundry, cleaning, bed making, all of these chores I had to take on the role of doing that,” said Margaret Norman. 

Adjusting to the role of primary caregiver for your spouse is equally as difficult as being the one cared for.

“Caregiving for an older person is different than caregiving for your children,” Margaret Norman said. She also said that not having resources or a good support system can be isolating.

Thankfully, Margaret and Vernon found help through the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments, or .

“Before I had (TARCOG) I was doing the work and didn’t have anybody to help me but having had it, it’s been a big help,” said Margaret Norman. 

Guiding them through the resources available to fit their needs.

“Not everybody has caregivers insurance, long term care. Not everybody can afford to put their loved ones in a facility, but they have to be cared for,” said Margaret Norman. 

մ䰿’s and events allow caregivers to feel seen and heard.

“T from TARCOG and Care Academy and even Caregiver College is like you are being pampered from morning to afternoon, from the time you go in they serve us breakfast, they serve us lunch. We get to meet a lot of other caregivers and we get to share stories and just relax,” said Margaret Norman. 

Even though the road gets bumpy, it’s Margaret and Vernon’s love for each other that carries them through, together.

“My husband is easy to care for. He’s very easy to please. In the 43 years we’ve been married, he’s never complained about food or anything like that even though he has had his disability he has learned to accept it and live with it,” said Margaret Norman. 

Vernon did suffer a second stroke in 2020, and they’re still working on improving his speech. Margaret and Vernon Norman will celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary on Nov. 27.

2023 Caregivers College

Image from the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments Facebook page

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