Tom Lyons Honors His Wife Carol as a Valley VNA Caregiver

Tom and Carol enjoying a rickshaw ride.

Tom and Carol Lyons came to know Valley VNA Senior Care in 2016. They visited often to participate in the Lyrics & Laughter music appreciation program for people experiencing dementia and their caregivers. Later they would join in bingo games and Memory Cafes through the Fox Valley Memory Project. By the time Tom realized he needed help to care for Carol, he knew and trusted the people of Valley VNA and turned to them for weekly respite care for Carol in their southside Neenah home. Her in-home caregivers became Carol’s much-anticipated “visits with girlfriends” and Tom’s chance for a break from fulltime caregiving to his funny, musical, and theatrical wife.

Carol’s dementia progressed and she moved into Valley VNA in April 2017. Tom, always her partner, found ways to invest in her new residence and quickly trained as a Cycling Without Age rickshaw pilot in addition to his thrice-daily visits with Carol. Before long, he began to facilitate a monthly men’s caregiver group at Valley VNA. More recently, he began socializing with “the guys” in VNA’s independent senior apartments and even drives the VNA transport bus for residents who have medical appointments.

Sadly, Carol passed away on July 25, 2020, at age 72, but Tom knew his connection to Valley VNA was not gone. In September 2021 at age 73, he embraced the paid six-week caregiver training and became a paid part-time caregiver to Valley VNA residents. He works 18 hours a week and credits his new career choice to having seen how resident assistants cared for Carol. “I am blessed health-wise, so I can do the work. I now know all the things I wasn’t aware they were doing for Carol. It’s very meaningful to me and a way to honor Carol.”