By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Leader knows challenges firsthand

She really shepherds the members. If you don’t show up, Carole Bova-Rice said, she’ll track you down.

But she and other members appreciate that. They know they can call Lutz, too, between sessions as well as on meeting days. She’ll point them in the right direction for help, if she can’t help herself, and she’ll always listen, they said.

She is the glue that holds the group together, members agreed.

Lutz was in leadership roles as a control tower operator in the Navy WAVES during World War II. And she taught high school English for many years before retiring.

But her most important qualification is her background as a caregiver. She cared for her husband when he suffered from vascular dementia. At the peak of his last illness, she said, she couldn’t leave his side, and didn’t want to.

It was a difficult journey, but one she would not have missed.

“People ask if there’s some joy in caregiving,” Lutz said. Some days there wasn’t. “But some days, he’d be totally normal,” she said. “Those are the moments you grab onto.”

When she recalls the good times and hard times, she knows the other caregivers in the support group will understand. “We all know what the others are going through,” she said.

As leader of the group, Lutz is devoted to finding information to help caregivers and seniors in general. She schedules all sorts of people to speak to the support group, from EMTs, pharmacists and hospice workers to respite sitters, financial planners and representatives of programs such as McMinnville Public Library’s outreach to the homebound.

She gives new members information packets containing all sorts of tips, ideas and lists of organizations and agencies that can be of help, such as NW Senior Services’ family caregiver support program, YCAP and the Lions Club medical closet.

And she adds more to the packets each week ‑— witness the collection of filled notebooks on the shelf of longtime member John Adams. One of the additions this month, for instance, was an article from a recent AARP magazine, “Caregiver’s Journey.”

The support group runs from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the McMinnville Senior Center. For more information, call Lutz at 503-883-9297. 

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