A Lifetime of Love with Senior Companions02/23/2017

A Lifetime of Love with Senior Companions

After a 12-day hospital stay, followed by two separate stints in The Haven of Our Lady Peace nursing home, Sherry Burton knew that her mother, Marie Wombles, needed better long-term help. Marie is legally blind, has trouble hearing, and has also had several recent episodes involving blood clots. She would sometimes have trouble maintaining her balance, and as a result would fall and sustain injuries that required medical care or hospitalization. She simply could not be left alone. What was a daughter to do?

Enter Council on Aging of West Florida's Senior Companions program, which enlisted long-time volunteer Rose Cook to provide support and help to the struggling family. Rose first became interested in senior care when she and her sister began helping their mother in her old age. After she passed, Rose went to work at a nursing home where she discovered her passion for helping our community's elderly. Rose has been involved with Senior Companions for three years now and has had as many clients.

Early in 2017, Senior Companion Supervisor Janice McGrew accompanied Rose to meet Marie.

"It was love at first sight," said Rose. "I felt an instant connection. I now work with Marie in her house five hours a day, five days a week."

Rose not only provides friendship and a listening ear; she also helps make meals, does laundry, keeps Marie's room clean, and whatever else the grateful client wishes.

"I wouldn't trade her for the world," said Marie. "She is an absolute angel. She is precious and kind-hearted."

Rose has fit in well with the rest of the family, too, including Sherry.

"The only problem with Rose is that she spoils momma," said Sherry. "I'm just kidding of course. I can joke like that because we all get along so well."

Marie said that her various medical conditions will likely be with her the rest of her life. Some days and some months are better than others, as problems tend to flare up and then subside.

"Rose is there with me through it all," said Marie. "This is a lifetime thing for me, and I hope Rose is too."

On a typical weekday morning, Rose and Marie can be seen chatting in their living, watching The Price is Right.

"She can hear or see it too well, so I narrate it for her," said Rose. "I love being here. I love making her life easy. You know, I can get up and fetch her a cup of water if she needs it in just a few seconds; it might take her several minutes to do. I can just do things a little more efficiently so she can relax."

Rose's service provides a welcome respite to Sherry, too, who used to have to watch over her mother 24/7.

"The other day I was able to get out of the house, do some shopping, grab something to eat, and I never doubted that momma was in good hands," said Sherry. "Rose has helped us all. She deserves an award."

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