WORTHINGTON — Gerald Mulder is still able to reside in his Worthington home and enjoy a beautiful view of Lake Okabena. That’s partly thanks to the occupational therapy he received at Sanford Health.
Mulder, 87, has lived in Worthington for more than 30 years. Before that, he had an acreage in Rushmore, and he also he worked as a U.S. Department of Agriculture meat inspector. He and his wife, Verna, were married in 1956, and though they weren’t pronounced husband and wife there (they wed in South Carolina), they’ve attended what’s now known as Lakeside Church since around that time.
Verna now lives at Ecumen Meadows in Worthington, where she’s in the memory care unit. Her husband remains at home, where he continues to get by thanks to the assistance of some special people.
“I was losing strength in my right arm and I’m right-handed,” explained Mulder, adding that he underwent an operating on a nerve in that arm. “Then I noticed I had Parkinson’s.”
Mulder officially got his Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis about 15 months ago, he remembered.
“I got an appointment with Dr. (Jerome) Freeman in Sioux Falls,” he said. “He put me on my medication that very much slowed it (shaking) down, and he prescribed therapy. I could hardly write my name anymore.”
Mulder subsequently began undergoing occupational therapy with Alyssa Conrad, an occupational therapist at Sanford Worthington Medical Center.
“She specialized in this shakiness, in Parkinson’s … and I was shaky,” he remembered. “It seems to me it was about six weeks (with Conrad), and then they extended it.
“I did exercise, and writing and walking,” Mulder went on. “I was a lot better after therapy. I use a walker now and I’ve got a cane, but I hardly use it.”
Considering his age and the fact that he’s also underwent hip surgery, Mulder feels like he’s getting around pretty well. He currently attends Bone Builders sessions in Worthington twice a week and said “he’s got enough strength now” — though he’s quick to admit he’s not “healed.”
“It's all gotten me so I can take care of myself,” Mulder said. “I do have a lot of people that help, too. I have a wonderful neighbor who helps me and a couple of guys who help with yard work, and a couple of sisters and a sister-in-law. A sister comes in Tuesday and brings meals … and someone comes and cleans for me.”
Mulder is grateful for the outside help he has, and also is happy he can continue his wife regularly at Ecumen Meadows.
“They are wonderful there,” he said of Verna’s residence. “She receives such great care there.”
And, most importantly, Mulder is kept grounded by his strong faith.
“The main one in my life is my Lord,” he said. “I trust Him, and He’s my salvation. My faith and trust is in Him.”