Otto and Phillips: Forever Valentines

Their story started on a simple trip to a Sprint store. Phillips wanted a quick trip in and out to get her phone fixed before a work trip. Otto just so happened to be the customer in line before Phillips. Otto, being the social butterfly he is, had a conversation with Phillips that turned into a whole discussion and exchange of similarities between the two. Little did they know this small encounter would turn into a beautiful and inspiring relationship.

Otto and Phillips Jones recently celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary on Feb. 6 — about a week shy of Valentine’s Day. Phillips said her favorite date with Otto was their wedding night. It was a night to remember, set in a beautiful hotel right across from Florida beaches. Their family and the friends they’d made through different trips and journeys all came together to celebrate their found love. 

Later, Otto was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The warning signs began when Otto’s memories started interfering with financial affairs and he had challenges counting out and distributing his daily medications, but it wasn’t until he got lost one day while driving that Phillips realized there was a serious problem.

Otto and Phillips Jones address the crowd at the 2019 Broward County Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

The couple’s day-to-day life has changed as new challenges have emerged. Phillips and Otto are still very independent people, though Alzheimer’s Association support groups have helped them throughout their journey. Their participation in the support groups allows them to express and exchange stories with caregivers and those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Phillips said the most challenging part of being a caregiver is the additional responsibility and understanding that her decisions are not just for herself but for Otto. On the other hand, she said the most rewarding part is being able to make a positive difference in her husband’s life. She aims to ensure that he continues to live the best quality of life and enjoy the things he truly loves.

When asked what advice she has for others with loved ones diagnosed with dementia, Phillips said to stay positive because positive things can still happen. She encouraged others to educate themselves, become aware of the possible pitfalls, and just embrace what they can do and have a good time. Phillips added that she believes engagement and participation in support groups, clinical trials and raising awareness can help others facing dementia, and that doing this herself with Otto has helped them grow closer by giving them both more opportunities to spread that positivity.

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