Family gives best care anywhere

  • Kristi O’Harran / Herald Columnist
  • Monday, March 1, 2004 9:00pm
  • Local News

Five years ago, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, it seemed like a good idea to care for John DeVore at his Marysville home.

The patient is still there, spending most days quietly sitting in his recliner, surrounded by a remarkable support system. His wife, Katie DeVore, said she is no longer a wife, she is a caretaker for her husband.

"All that is gone," Katie DeVore said. "I have all the memories."

In 1999, I wrote that John DeVore, then 56, could remember the Fourth of July in 1956, but activity from five minutes ago was a blur. At that time, Katie DeVore had given up her retirement plans in which she hoped to travel with her husband, see the ocean and tend to grandchildren.

Katie DeVore has found a wonderful way to be at her husband’s side around the clock and also help other elderly members of the Marysville community. At Katie’s Adult Daycare, caregivers who need a break can drop off elderly folks who enjoy home-cooked meals, a safe environment and friends.

The day care is open seven days a week, and the charge is $6.50 per hour. Some baby boomer children drop off mom or dad so the 50-somethings can go to work.

"Like I said five years ago, I am establishing something new," Katie DeVore said. "We take care of them during the daytime, then they go to bed in their own homes."

She meets with an Alzheimer’s support group and is organizing a caregiver-to-caregiver program in June. To push her idea for home service, she is on a first-name basis with all of her legislators.

"We can have these kinds of day care," said Katie DeVore, 49. "People need time away from the disease, not their loved ones."

It’s not unusual for the DeVore household to be buzzing. Family members drop in and out to lend a hand. The day I visited, I met their grandson, Shane Fietkau, 20 and two of their daughters, Lisa DeVore, 32, who lives in Everett, and Linda Farrington, 28, who lives in Marysville. Farrington’s son, Sean Sorbo, 15 months, seemed comfortable climbing aboard his grandfather’s lap.

John DeVore, a former engineer and pilot, told me his stomach bothers him. Katie DeVore said her husband’s liver is failing, and may have less than two years to live. Her husband didn’t blink when she told me he is dying. They believe they should not keep things in the dark.

"We put everything out in the open," Lisa DeVore said. "We are open and honest."

She said the family will care for her father at home as long as possible.

Her 8-year-old grandson recently said the family has to be grandpa’s brain.

As baby boomers take over the care of their parents, Katie DeVore said the problem of how to deal with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia will only increase. She said she doesn’t want the government telling folks what they may do in their own homes.

"We’ve got day care for children, why not for our parents?" she said. "It’s only going to get worse. The state should see what they can do to keep families together."

She described her operation as glorified day care. Unlike weekday-only adult day care centers with nurses present, Katie’s Adult Daycare doesn’t offer foot care or measure blood pressure. Her clients may sit and watch television, listen to music, plant flowers, nap, read or visit as they would in their own home.

"Many adults suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia do not need to be placed in an institution," Katie DeVore said. "They simply need to be monitored in a safe and loving place. The public doesn’t understand this journey. We have the right to age in place."

The last time Katie DeVore slipped away for a couple of days, she went to the ocean. Her husband used to love trips to the shore, she said. When he goes for a car ride these days, he sits quietly and looks out the window.

As we talked with several family members, Katie DeVore raised her voice to top an efficient security message that announced whenever someone went out the front or back door.

"One of these days I’ll have privacy," Katie DeVore said. "Right now, I have John’s life to take care of."

Her husband said "Yup" when his wife said she would take care of him until the end.

"Just because you are unlearning everything you learned in life doesn’t mean you need a nursing home," Katie DeVore said. "I am grateful for everyday I have John."

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or

Katie’s Adult Daycare is offering free lunch every Friday so caregivers can run to the grocery store or complete some appointments. For more information, call 360-653-0167.

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