Wonderwoman Tells What Its Like To Care for an Elder
by D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
posted Mar. 4, 1998
When Aundré The Wonderwoman Herron talks, people laugh even
when theyre Berkeley faculty and staff gathering to discuss the
often painful issue of elder care.
As a professional stand-up comedian, Herron is used to amusing
audiences at comedy clubs around the country.
But her comedy isnt just an act, its a way to share the joy
of caring for an elderly, dependent parent.
Herron cared for her mother, who suffered from Alzheimers Disease,
for 10 years until she died last July.
Im so glad I did this for her. To be able to give back what
she gave to me was one of the best things Ive ever done in my
life, said Herron, who calls herself Wonderwoman because she
always wondered how she would juggle her career and care giving
Herron was on campus Thursday, Feb. 27, to encourage those in
similar situations to use humor to cope with care-giving stress.
Her visit was sponsored by the elder care unit of CARE Services.
During her presentation, Herron recalled many of the funny moments
she shared with her mother during their 10 years together.
Once, when she saw a newspaper story on boxer Mike Tyson with
the headline Unknown Beats Tyson, she exclaimed Tyson doesnt
even know who beat him?
When Herron arranged for her mother to attend an adult day care
center, she walked out on the first day and was lost.
Panicked, Herron phoned the police, who said her mother was at
the station, safe and sound.
Herron rushed to the station expecting to find a lonely, frightened
old lady, but instead found her mother engaged in a casual conversation
with one of the officers. When her mother turned and saw her anxious
daughter standing in the doorway, she shook her head and told
the officer, This is what I have to put up with.
Herron realized this was her mothers attempt to hide her embarrassment.
Even though Alzheimer patients lose their functionality, they
dont lose their pride and dignity, cautioned Herron.
During her presentation, Herron also emphasized the importance
of taking breaks from care-giving duties to rejuvenate.
Delores Salas, a staffer with the vice chancellor for business
and administrative services, said she admired Herrons ability
to speak out about her experiences.
Listening to Herron reaffirms my own experiences of taking care
of my mother. Ive always kept these stories to myself and its
such a release to hear her tell everyone, said Salas.
Ave Tolentino, who works for Environment, Health and Safety, agreed,
adding that although she and Salas have known each other for years,
they only recently divulged to each other that they are both caregivers.
Humor helps people open up and see the funny side of what can
be a very trying situation, said Tolentino.
For more information on elder care services for faculty and staff,
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