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Posts Tagged ‘Parkinson’s disease’

Former Greene County agriculture teacher, trucker, Gary Deer, Sr., dead at 87

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, obituary on July 2, 2020 at 5:35 am

Gary Deer Sr., of Jamestown, Ohio, passed away July 1st at the age of 87. Gary is pictured here with younger son Gery and their 1967 International 1600 show truck at the 2019 Caesar’s Ford Summerfest. Photo Courtesy Greene County Parks & Recreation.

Some people are farmers or mechanics. Others are truckers or teachers. Still more are welders and masons. Gary Deer, Sr., of Jamestown, Ohio, was all of those things – and more. Born and raised at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the tiny village of Hanging Rock, Ohio, he came north in 1951 with his wife Lois in search of a better life. Gary passed away on July 1, 2020, at the age of 87 after a long battle with complications from Parkinson’s disease. This story, though, isn’t about how he died, but how he lived. 

When he first came to Dayton, Gary got a job at AT&T but went on to work nearly 20 years as a machinist with NCR. Gary and Lois raised two children, Gary, Jr., and Cathy, in Fairborn, before settling in 1977 on a small farm outside Jamestown where their younger son, Gery, grew up.

Gary was the original master of the “side hustle,” as it’s known today, making a lifelong career of creatively applying his skills and talents to support his family. Over the years, he hauled scrap iron, worked on cars, drove trucks, and poured concrete. 

In the late 1960s, Gary became a teacher of vocational agriculture and heavy equipment mechanics at the Greene County Joint Vocational School (now the Greene County Career Center). The position included advising students in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and his teaching style and fatherly image created a fierce loyalty and respect from them, many of whom became lifelong family friends. 

But to many, he may be best known as the “Sawdust Man,” because he started hauling sawdust in 1961 under the name “Gary Deer & Son,” updated to “Sons” when Gery came along. The business is still operated today by Gary, Jr., and supplies sawdust for bedding to some of the most prominent stables and dairies in the area, including Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Gary never forgot what it was like to grow up with nothing. He and his family always worked to help others, sponsoring families at Christmas, giving to various charities, and helping out those around them however they could. (Read the story about the Deer family’s Christmas philanthropy, now free from Amazon Kindle – “A Special Place at a Special Time” by Gery Deer)

His family kept him as active as possible in his later years, hanging out with the family band, The Brothers & Co., or attending car shows with their 1967 International show truck. He was a weekly regular at the Antioch Wellness Center where he continued his physical therapy to help maintain his strength and mobility as his Parkinson’s advanced.

“We should all try to remember how those we’ve lost stay with us; not from “things” they leave behind, but in how they made us who we are, like a tapestry of life experiences,” younger son, Gery, shared. “Dad taught me self-reliance but more than that, he will be with me every time I feel like giving up – because he never did. He showed me, by example, how to use every skill and talent I have to provide for myself and my family.”

“When I look back later at what I’ve written and documented through photos and videos about my time looking after him, I want to be reminded of what mattered most. Not how he died, but how he lived. He was never perfect, but he was always there. And I guess, in my own way, he always will be. But our lives will never be the same without him. We’ll see you on the flip-side, ‘Sawdust Man.’”

Gary’s wife of 60 years, Lois, passed away in 2011 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his three children, Gary Deer, Jr. (67), Cathy Wolf (64), and Gery Deer (52), all from the Jamestown area, and their respective spouses, Diana, Robert, and Barbara. He also leaves behind a sister, Yvonne Kay Hughes (84) of Ironton, Ohio, 5 grandchildren – Melissa Van Oss, Jessica Simmons, Jodi Castillo, Tiffany Knapp, and Henry Dill, (and their spouses), 7 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. 

SERVICES: Handled by Powers-Kell Funeral Home (WEBSITE/OBIT) Tuesday, July 7, 2020 – Public Graveside – Woodlawn Cemetery in Bowersville, Ohio.  – Viewing/Visitation 10AM / Service Starts 11AM. Followed by a Celebration Open House at Gery Deer’s home, 3604 N Lakeshore Dr., Jamestown, Ohio 45335. Call 937-675-6169 for information.

For those wishing to pay their respects from a distance, in lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his name to the Parkinson’s Foundation or the Greene County Council on Aging

The Deer family would also like to thank the following people as well as countless others for their contributions during Gary’s illness and care: Julie Barth, Debra Bays, Ed Jones, Robert Wolf, Rob Simmons, Lynn Martin, Bette Byerly, Misty Myers, New Jasper Township Fire & Rescue, and Dr. Courtney Stroble. 

Check out our photo gallery of Gary from over the years.

Living Longer vs. Living Better

In Children and Family, Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Science, Senior Lifestyle, State News, Technology, Uncategorized on December 26, 2017 at 8:07 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Modern medicine is an incredible thing, with breakthroughs almost daily that range from simple treatments for common ailments to advanced organ transplants. Through those great medical innovations, the lifespan of the average person is now well into the 80s, with better living through chemistry, or so they want us to believe.

But while we treat one area of illness another continues to progress making it seem like we’re falling apart in little pieces. Where we once just dropped dead from something simple like a heart attack, now it seems we deteriorate bit by bit, with each component of our bodies being held together by a separate roll of medical duct tape.

Think of it this way. We take a pill for blood thinning so we don’t have a clot and get a stroke or heart attack. We take a pill for diabetes to keep our glucose levels down. But at the same time, our mind is intact, with virtually no deterioration. Or maybe it’s the opposite, Alzheimer’s shreds the mind while the body is still healthy. Eventually, the body follows in decay since the Alzheimer’s begins to affect how the nervous system functions.

Thanks to modern science, we’re living longer than ever, but I wouldn’t call it healthier or with much of a quality of life. There’s something to be said for just having the lights go out all at once. One of the most horrific things I have had to endure is watching my mother’s mind go as her body still functioned reasonably well. Or what might be worse, having an active, clear mind trapped in a degenerating body that refuses to follow the brain’s instructions any longer.

At what point are we living too long for our own good and quality of life? Can medical science develop a plan to help the entire body and mind maintain the same or reasonably similar level of health for as long as possible? I don’t think that’s really possible.

So, here we are, a pill for this and a potion for that, all in the name of better living through chemistry. Granted, much of what’s wrong with us is their our doing – smoking, drinking, sugar, fat, it goes on and on. Personal responsibility as one ages should at least be taken into account here. We are what we eat, and boy, it’s a mess.

Formaldehyde and chemicals in our water, the carcinogenic material in our meat, pesticides in our vegetables, super-sized everything at the fast food counter, vaping (yeah, like that’s not smoking, whatever). It’s all killing us. But don’t worry, there’s a pill to counteract the effects of all that, so don’t worry about it.

Isn’t it idiotic, though, how much of what happens to us as we age is our own fault? We’re getting older, but we’re sicker when we live longer. When we won’t take care of ourselves even in the short term, someone else has to pay for that later on.

Last year, for example, obesity-related illness cost Americans nearly $200 billion and treating sickness related to smoking cost more than $300 billion. But wait, there’s more! Excessive use of alcohol costs Americans $249 billion.

Fighting obesity is sadly not as simple as trading a cheeseburger for a celery stick. It takes a full and complete lifestyle overhaul that may require generations to affect a family line. But you can totally prevent alcohol and tobacco illness by never lighting up or popping open that cold one.

Addiction may be a disease, but even that is 100-percent preventable because that first drink or smoke is a choice. A penny toward prevention is worth billions toward a cure.

Well, some of this we have control over, some we don’t. It’s so hard to imagine how people can just not care about their own well-being and how that affects those around them. As we age, we need more help from others. Wouldn’t it be great if that burden were just a little easier on our loved ones?

Yes, we’re living longer. But, despite what the big pharmaceutical company advertisements tell you, the quality of that long life is not measured in milligram doses.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

Caregiving a parent with dignity

In Children and Family, Economy, Education, Health, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on October 5, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Deer In Headlines
Gery L. Deer

When you’re a caregiver of a senior parent one of the most difficult things is maintaining the dignity of your charge. When we’re kids, our parents wipe our faces free of food, help us in the bathroom, even spoon-feed us. But, decades later, when those roles are reversed, it’s important to keep in mind that the person you’re helping isn’t a child. He or she is an adult with a mature sense of dignity and pride.

It took me a long time to get used to helping care for my parents. To say it was uncomfortable to have to help my mother dress or manually feed her would be a massive understatement. Alzheimer’s had long settled in by the time she broke a hip, but not being able to walk created further challenges. Her mind was like that of a toddler and she didn’t initiate speech or really understand anything going on around her. So, it was different than it is with my father now.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery Deer, with his father, Gary Sr.

My parents were proud people and didn’t like taking help from anyone. Now, the man who was always looking after everyone around him needs more care than he’d probably ever imagined he would in his golden years.

Like many seniors in this situation, Dad is fully cognizant of what is going on around him, but he needs a great deal of physical help in managing his day-to-day activities. One thing it took a while to understand is that his sense of personal privacy and dignity must be preserved, though it seems to outsiders like it wouldn’t matter as much anymore. It does.

Which brings us to the first point of what you can do to maintain self-worth for your senior parent, whether you’re caring for them all the time or just helping out once in a while. First, you can help maintain personal privacy and dignity by closing the door when you help him or her to bathe, dress or change clothes.

You wouldn’t think twice about closing the door when you do those things but put yourself in their place. What makes you feel awkward probably makes them feel that way too.

Don’t make a show of things. Try your best to avoid drawing unwanted attention to your charge whenever possible. Adult children sometimes have a need for outside validation of the caregiving task they’ve undertaking and can be overly dramatic in public. I can assure you it’s unlikely your mom or dad or whomever you’re caring for really wants any of that attention. They want to feel as normal and inconspicuous as possible so help them.

The more prepared you are the better. Keep a care bag packed to travel with, even if just going around town for the day. Load it with spare clothing, tissues, a towel, facial wipes, a bottle of water, specialized eating utensils, whatever your senior may potentially need, both commonly or in an emergency. Remember that their comfort comes first. Be ready for anything.

Sometimes the best way to help is to do nothing. As frustrating as it can be as a caregiver to sit by and watch your charge struggle to do something like button his shirt, there are times when you need to do just that – nothing. Although it can be part of the individual’s therapy to do normal, day-to-day things like getting dressed, it can be challenging.

And, as caregivers, it’s tough not to jump in and just do it for them. But, from the standpoint of respect, you have to let them do their best to tackle it on their own. It’s when their own frustration level peaks you might need to take over.

Naturally, there are things you have to do to care for them that they’re not going to be happy with. He or she may not want to use the cane or walker they’ve been provided. You will probably need to be firm with them on this because sometimes safety must outweigh pride.

Finally, be patient. I struggle with this one daily. Remember that this is hard for them too. Remember you’re not alone. If you need help, go find it.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com.