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Aging Resources WNC

Moving from Caregiver to Care Receiver

Kevin Morgan’s mother, Molly Morgan, has been a caretaker her whole life. She provided care for a son with Cerebral Palsy, then to Kevin’s grandfather who had a stroke, and finally to her husband who suffered from dementia. When Kevin’s dad passed away 6 years ago the family thought that Molly would finally be able to do something that she wanted to do. But they slowly realized that was not going to be the case. 

“No one realized that Mom had significant memory issues until Dad passed away.” Kevin remembers, “Then the light went on; mom had nothing to regulate her day. We realized she had significant memory challenges.” 

After Molly’s primary care physician ran some tests, it became clear Molly was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently. 

Molly experienced a slow progression of the disease over the course of three years. But it eventually got to the point that Kevin and his family felt like they needed specialized care, not just for her, but for the whole family. “Alzheimer’s, there’s not a cure for that,” Kevin says, “You just try to mitigate it and slow it down if you can. You just try to deal with the reality of it. Not only did she need someone that specialized in that, but my siblings and me, as caregivers, needed that as well.” 

Kevin and his family decided to send Molly to AdventHealth Hendersonville to see Marianna Benson, DO who specializes in Geriatric Medicine through its Age-Friendly Initiative. “I just felt like we needed a different level of care.” Kevin says, “I felt like Dr. Benson could help all of us.” 

Dr. Benson is part of a team of providers at the AdventHealth Medical Group Multispecialty at Laurel Park who offer specialized services for older adults and their caregivers. These services include physical therapy, nutrition, dementia support groups and pet therapy.

“The field of geriatrics has taught me to listen to my patients and be humbled by their trust,” Dr. Benson says, “I am also rewarded by helping families understand and plan for loved ones with dementia.” 

Dr. Benson offers caregivers, like Kevin and his family, resources and tips on how to manage their loved one’s daily care. “It’s empowering,” Kevin explains, “I’m a very positive and happy person, but those unknown things – what is next month going to bring, or what is next year going to bring – to have someone to talk about that with – to me that’s empowering because it takes some of the fear away. It makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like my mom is safe.” 

Molly is going to be 90 years old in April, and the thing that matters most to her is to be able to stay home as long as she can. With Dr. Benson’s help and using the Age-Friendly Care Initiatives from AdventHealth Hendersonville, Kevin is more prepared to meet the needs of caring for his mother. “Health is not just about getting rid of all illnesses, or sicknesses, or conditions,” Kevin says, “Health is about the journey. And I think AdventHealth is invested in that journey with their patients.”

AdventHealth Hendersonville is among the first health systems in the country – and the first in North Carolina to receive the Age-Friendly Health System – Committed to Care Excellence designation at all of its AdventHealth Medical Group locations across Western North Carolina. 

If you would like to learn more about Age-Friendly Care or request an appointment, please visit or call 828-761-7221.

Aging Resources Magazine 2023-2024