Lawrence Couple Finds Independence in PACE
By Ryan Brinker, Midland Care Volunteer
When people think about growing older, they generally envision a restful retirement, the burdens of stressful day-to-day struggles being alleviated, and enjoyment of a well-earned break from the hustle and bustle of society. Sometimes, however, the supposedly simple twilight years are not so easy. This is a prime example of one of those times.
Linda Ward, 71, is a retired Lawrence resident who has worked all her life, in more ways than one. She has been married to her husband, Alan, 74, for 14 years. Alan has a learning disability and has diabetes, so Linda acts both as his wife and legal guardian.
They both worked to earn their retirements, with Linda working as the head cashier at Hobby Lobby and Alan being a Janitor at the University of Kansas for more than three decades. Linda was very happy at work.
“I loved it,” Ward told me. “I would have stayed there forever.”
Unfortunately, the time for retirement finally came. If anyone had earned a break, it was the Wards. However, when they no longer had jobs, that’s when the real difficulties arose.
The Wards began to experience serious medical issues. In 2015, Linda contracted MRSA and came close to needing a pacemaker. The next year, Alan needed a bypass surgery. Now, Linda was saddled with taking care of her husband while dealing with serious health problems and having to juggle several different kinds of medications for both of them at the same time.
The stress became so insurmountable that Linda attempted to take her own life in December of last year. This was a real wakeup call. In January of this year, she and her husband entered into the PACE program at Midland Care.
“Things just got so much better,” Linda said. “I mean, it’s like night and day.”
The Wards use PACE for their daycare services, to see doctors, to get help with medications, and to ease the stress of day-to-day life. They have a PACE-appointed social worker for Alan’s specific needs and they are enjoying a regimented, relaxed life now.
“For me, I can’t say enough nice things about PACE,” Linda said. “PACE has been really wonderful to us.”
Linda encourages anyone who is on the fence about reaching out to PACE to take the leap. She added that PACE does not take away from her independence, but, instead, it sustains it. She went on to say that it has added so much joy to her life.
“If I had to rate it on a scale of one-to-ten,” she told me, “I’d give it a 12.”