Amazing Senior – Phyllis Lozeau

Amazing Senior - Phyllis Lozeau

Raising a family and maintaining a successful marriage is an accomplishment in and of itself. This month’s Amazing Senior, Phyllis Lozeau, managed both for an astonishing 61 years—that’s 61 years of marriage, six children, nine grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren—despite a heavy burden of challenges. Phyllis and Robert met when they were teenagers. “I was 16 years old; he was 17,” she says. “He and his friend were watching the skaters at the roller skating rink when he [saw me and said], ‘I am going to marry that girl!’” And indeed, he did, just one week after Phyllis graduated with her RN in nursing. Phyllis was trained as a registered nurse, specializing in obstetrics. But most of the first part of her married life was spent caring for her home and children, and assisting Robert in his pool business near their home in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, hard times hit. “Robert was building close to 100 swimming pools a year,” she explains. “[Then] in the 1980s, our production went from 100 pools down to seven in one season.” After 28 years in business, bankruptcy was the only option. “Our horses were given away to good homes, our furniture placed in storage, our business location and all the equipment and contents of the stores were sold at auction,” she says. They lost their home as well, so the heartbroken family decided to move south. “We arrived in Florida with our clothes and a paid-for auto. [Robert] had to drive back to get our German shepherd because [the dog] kept running back home,” she says. The family started over. Phyllis took on her own new challenges too. “I studied for real estate and sold homes for Century 21. I was licensed for sale of annuities, life and health insurance, mortgages, and securities (mutual funds) with Primerica Financial Services,” she says. “I held seven different licenses in the state of Florida and simultaneously taught agents the required continuing education for insurance.” She also worked two to three days a week at a local hospital. Later, when Robert quit the pool business for good, Phyllis returned to being a full-time nurse, eventually becoming charge nurse. In 2012, things took a difficult turn. Robert had open-heart surgery, and soon Phyllis noticed changes in his personality. “[There was] increased shortness with grandchildren, but I dismissed it and commented to him that he was beginning to act like a ‘grumpy old man’, which was unlike him,” she says. Phyllis Part 2The personality changes didn’t stop, however, and it soon became too much to ignore. Phyllis insisted on a visit to a neurologist. “When he failed all [the doctor’s] questions, my heart sank.” Robert had Alzheimer’s Disease. Phyllis took on this new challenge with the same dedication she gave to every aspect of her life. When she grew dissatisfied with standard medications, she researched alternative ways to enhance his treatment and do what she could to improve things. It was not easy. Alzheimer’s is a progressive debilitating disease that is difficult to live with for both patient and caretaker. “My only goal was to prevent confinement to a nursing home which we could not afford nor would he tolerate well,” she says. “Change is not good for [Alzheimer’s] patients.” Over the months and years, small victories kept hope alive. “He never forgot who I was,” she says. “I still can hear him calling [my name]. It still brings the deluge of tears.” Robert passed away in November of 2016, but not before one final victory “[It was] May 7, 2016,” Phyllis recalls. “He gave [our] daughter away [at her wedding]. I cried watching him come down the aisle in his tuxedo, so proud. That was a memorable day.” Phyllis’ experiences eventually led her to write a book that she hopes will help others. She self-published Married to a Stranger: An Alternative Approach to Simply Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease in January 2016, while she was still helping her husband and family cope. “One of our daughters knew I was logging what I was giving him and how he reacted. She commented, ‘Mom, you should write a book.’” And so Phyllis, never afraid of a new challenge, did. The book is now available on Amazon, a wonderful resource to help others in that difficult situation feel less alone. is proud to feature Phyllis this month. Her determination and faith is an inspiration, an amazing example of how to triumph over adversity, even when it breaks your heart. Phyllis took on every challenge and never gave up, and she continues to live her best life. “I guess you could say my passion is learning whatever tickles my fancy,” she says. “Now my hobbies [include] painting with oil paints, playing piano, sewing, reading, [and] knitting.”