After spending some time with Mrs. Mayme Gillaspy, you walk away truly appreciating her will and determination to be a caregiver for her son, Michael, who is disabled. At 86 years old, she continues to amaze everyone with her no no-nsense attitude. Michael is now in his mid-60s, and as a youth, Mrs. Gillaspy reports that she was informed that he would not be able to do many things. Mrs. Gillaspy did not listen to what the doctors told her; instead she focused on caring for him and helping him achieve his own personal goals. Michael was able to surpass many obstacles with her support and has a full life. Mrs. Gillaspy is his voice, and continues to be the voice, to help him get the services that he requires. He currently receives services through a program that allows him to stay in the home with his mother and allows Mrs. Gillaspy to continue to care for him.
Mrs. Gillaspy has many health issues of her own that make caring for herself and Michael, a challenge. She has limited vision and has had to stop driving recently. She now relies on Michael’s caregivers and a close friend of hers, who is in his 90s, to take her and her son to the grocery store. Clermont Senior Services provides homemaking services to Mrs. Gillaspy to help her with some general cleaning. She wants to continue doing everything that she can for herself and will not ask the homemaker to do something that she can do herself. There have been many times Mrs. Gillaspy has put off her own health care needs because she knows what it would mean having to be away from Michael. Mrs. Gillaspy understands that one day she may not be able to care for Michael and has made arrangements, with Michael’s input, for when that day comes.
Mrs. Gillaspy is an outstanding advocate, making sure that her son’s voice was heard and he received the respect that everyone deserves. Her actions and spirit embrace unconditional love and make her a caregiver worthy of being honored. Though Mrs. Gillaspy’s situation may not be the typical “caregiver of an older adult,” I hope that you will help in celebrating her Award for the Council on Aging’s Outstanding Caregiver as she continues to make the life of an older adult easier, better, and longer.