Joyce Stump of Evans, GA, is a care partner to her husband, Jimmy, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2000 at age 48. Joyce is a recipient of the 2021-2022 Parkinson’s Care Partner Award from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence. These awards support and honor the incredible sacrifices and undying commitment of care partners in the Parkinson’s community.
Joyce shares some highlights of her experience as a care partner:
What advice would you give to those beginning their role as a care partner?
When you first receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis, don’t look at it with total negativity. Look at it as a journey and opportunity for growth. Obtain all the information you can get to help guide you through. Surround yourself with a great medical team, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Yes, there are going to be changes, yes there are going to be emotions involved, and yes it’s going to be a rollercoaster. Go with the flow. Dig deep, get a mentor, and find friends. Realize you’re important, too, and that you can do it. It’s also important to think of a blessing each day. There are always blessings.
How do you recharge?
I have a lot of support from my family, my friends, and my Sunday School class. Find a go-to place when things crash in on you -- mine is outdoors by the Savannah River. Find a book you enjoy. Each day, find a little bright spot.
What has been the most challenging part of your role as a care partner?
I’ve had to learn to accept help from others. I have had to learn to accept help as people want to give it. I’m not in this alone. Another challenge was having to retire from a job I loved before I was ready. But I try to take each day as an opportunity to learn with each challenge and change.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a care partner?
This experience has drawn Jimmy and me closer and deepened our appreciation for each other. We’ve developed deeper respect as we rely on one another. Also, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people I’d have never met otherwise.
Which Parkinson’s Foundation resources or programs have been the most valuable to you?
We surrounded ourselves with a great medical team at a Center of Excellence. The Parkinson’s Foundation provides a lot of information and opportunities that have helped us find support, mentors, as well as assistance with medications and support when Jimmy lost his job due to his illness.
Dr. Morgan: why did you nominate Joyce Stump for this award?
I’ve known Joyce since 2003 and we’ve been on this journey together since then. What I’ve noticed about Joyce is she’s humble and she’s tireless. She does an incredible job taking care of Jimmy. I see it every time they come to clinic. She pushes him when he needs to be pushed, she loves him when he feels down, and she takes wonderful care of him. She’s what great caregiving is all about.