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This Maine Woman Is Her Husband's Caretaker. She Says Every Day Brings Isolation And Fear

For some Mainers, especially those who are elderly and immunocompromised, the coronavirus pandemic is especially frightening. Factor in the rules of social distancing, and trying to “stay safe” in rural Maine can feel like a lonely odyssey.

That’s the case for Joyce Hersey, who lives in South China with her husband, Herb. He’s in his late 60’s and has serious health issues, including dementia. She’s his caretaker.

Hersey spoke with Maine Public Radio News about what her life has been like during the pandemic.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

“I live on a camp road. I do have some neighbors around me, but they are far few and in between. So I’m more or less isolated.

“If Herb should catch it, where he has problems breathing now, I’m so afraid that he’s not going to be able to breathe and he’ll pass away. And right now, he has so much anxiety. I try to entertain him in the house. I try to put movies on that he enjoys.

“Every day, come right around one o’clock, he goes to bed at one, and then it’s just me. So I do some beading and some reading and stuff like that. But this is how it is every single day. Same thing. I don’t have the nurses coming in to help out, it’s just me.

“Yesterday, my daughter was here and my son in law, and my daughter took me to Hannaford. I hadn’t been out of the house before, what was it? Like nine days? I didn’t go nowhere for nine days.

“I do walk outside. But I don’t leave my dooryard, I don’t even go anywhere near the road. This is like a war, a war that you cannot see, an enemy you cannot see. And you have to take care of yourself. It’s almost like smoke out there. And you can’t get near the smoke. You have to adapt to it.

“And yes, I have my days when I think, you know, thinking, ‘Geez, I don’t know if I could take this any longer.’ Then I have to take a deep breath and I have to tell myself, ‘You’re OK Jo. You have food. You have shelter. You’re OK. And Herb is OK.’”

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