Wife shines spotlight on caregiving for veteran husband

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MAYFLOWER, Ark. – Alvin and Berthenia Gill have been by each other’s side for 38 years.

“It’s a long time, but you make the best out of it,” Berthenia said.

The two go together like peanut butter and jelly.

“When a man gets 90,” Alvin said before Berthenia cut him off.

“You’re 89,” Berthenia said.

“Okay, when a man gets 89, our memory ain’t quite as good as women,” Alvin finished.

Alvin now relies on his wife for help.

“He has delayed memory loss. It can be more severe at times than at other times,” Berthenia said.

Doctors have not officially diagnosed Alvin with Alzheimer’s Disease, but Berthenia believed his time as a combat engineer during Vietnam has contributed to his declining memory loss.

“You could gradually see the memory slowing down. You could see the delayed action in responding,” Berthenia said.

Berthenia considered herself her husband’s caregiver.

“I have to be very truthful with that. I get aggravated and sometimes I go off the wall, but I have to come back to base one,” Berthenia said.

According to AARP, there are 460-thousand family caregivers in Arkansas. This is something Berthenia knows all too well. She cared for her grandmother years ago and her daughter as she battled breast cancer.

“It becomes frustrating some time, but I have found out that patience and when it get tough on you and you don’t know what to do with it, walk away for a minute and come back,” she said.

AARP offers resources for caregivers who care for veterans. Click here for that information.

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