Meet Bob, IPF Caregiver

IPF Caregiver Bob holding a sign stating "Stay positive and enjoy every second"

Have you ever heard of a blind triple date? It’s when three boys don’t know three girls, and they all go out for a date together. My one and only blind triple date was well over 60 years ago. It was the night I met my one and only: my wife Nancy.

Our life together brought us many things we expected and many things we didn’t. Nancy and I are a team, united together against everything in our way. We had three children, two sons and a daughter, and in time they gave us grandchildren. We have traveled and do a lot of things with our church. But even though we knew we were growing older, neither one of us truly expected the health issues that came.

You expect aches and pains, you expect forgetting where you put something. Nancy never expected to be diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2013.

I never expected to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s a little over a year later. After being her support system, now she has to remind me to take my medications, too.

Though I was also dealing with my own health issues, I wanted to be the best caregiver for Nancy that I could. Stepping in to help take care of her was natural.

We had to approach this like we approached everything else: by working together.

At first, Nancy made it difficult for me to help because she was used to being the one taking care of everyone else! I had to listen for the opportunities to help. When she says, “I’m not feeling that good today,” that’s my cue to ask, “What can I do to help?” Keeping that communication open has been so important.

We made an effort to get educated about both of our conditions. Nancy comes with me to a Parkinson’s support group and I go with her to an IPF support group. These are great places for us to learn more about our conditions, meet others who are in similar situations, and learn from their experiences. Each group combines patients and caregivers, so that helps us understand what we're each going through in both roles.

We take our unified approach into our doctor’s appointments as well. Nancy is the one who likes to ask questions. She always brings a list of them, but we both review it before we go so we don’t forget any. Sometimes I’ll think of questions she hadn’t thought of. At the appointment, we both listen attentively and support one another.

Learning about how to try and manage IPF has been an adventure. We do our best by staying active, following the doctor’s recommendation for treatment that may work to keep IPF from progressing as quickly, and doing everything we need to do for Nancy’s health.

It's tough to take care of one another sometimes because we both have challenges. But the trick is finding balance.

Whoever has the greater need in that moment is the one who gets the attention. Thankfully, so far, neither one of us has felt like we’re doing all of the caregiving. Honestly, that’s what love is all about.

We keep on living the way we always have, though now we’re going at a slower pace. By slowing it down, Nancy feels better and we can continue to do things together. We’re fairly active in our church and our faith helps us face a lot of the stresses in our diseases and our everyday lives. We’re open with each other, like we have been for 60 years.

Taking care of our health and managing IPF help us to focus on the things we love, like spending time with our grandchildren.

We do our best to keep up with them. Nancy and I think it’s wonderful to have our family so close. They help lift our spirits and keep a positive attitude.

Keeping a positive attitude is one thing that has really helped both of us. We don’t let IPF get us down, even though it tries sometimes. Instead, we focus on the positive and we stay hopeful. Being positive helps you feel better and makes the time go by.

I should know. These past 60 years with Nancy have flown by, but I have loved every second of it.

IPF Patient Nancy holding a sign stating "I'm facing IPF to be the best I can be"

Nancy has IPF, but her husband also has health problems. Learn how they help support and care for each other.

IPF Patient Alvin holding a sign stating "I'm facing IPF to be my own champion"

IPF ran in Alvin’s family, so the diagnosis wasn’t a surprise to him. Discover what advice he has to share from years of learning about and living with the disease.

Collage of IPF Patients

Hear others with IPF share what they’ve learned about themselves and their disease with the support of their friends and families.