Home Care is the answer!

caregiversAngela is 97 years old when she falls and breaks her hip. She has surgery and is then moved to a rehabilitation facility. Following rehab therapy she is moved to an assisted living facility which is often the course of events for a 97 year old. Angela has never been married, has no children but she’s restless and feisty, and wants to return home. You see, for 95 years of her life she has lived with her sister Catarina, two years her junior. Catarina is also a spinster. They still share a bedroom with twin beds and Angela clutches her purse while she sleeps. Both of them have dementia. While Angela was hospitalized, neighbors would find Catarina wandering the streets looking for her sister. They needed to be together. They needed home care. The sisters’ bond was so tight and necessary, that a court ordered that two physicians would have to deem it medically necessary to separate them so their nephew arranged for 24/7 home care.

The sisters were first generation Americans of European descent. Their father owned a neighborhood restaurant, and the generous family was well known and loved. Education was important so they both went to excellent colleges; Angela became a registered dietician and Catarina earned a chemistry degree to work as a physician’s assistant. Their neighborhood deteriorated over the years and it was not uncommon for tiny Angela, who didn’t break 5 feet, to literally sweep a vagrant off her porch.

The sisters were not happy with having home care aides with them all of the time. It was challenging in the beginning, but even though their cognition was weak, they soon seemed to understand that if they didn’t acquiesce to the home care support, then they would no longer be able to live together. Angela had a saying she often repeated: “God is good. He doesn’t send you more than you can stand. So don’t complain!”

caregiversThe tiny sisters were very active keeping our caregivers on their toes. They liked going to the grocery story. They liked visiting our office. It was amazing how rapidly they could roll along with the aide of their walkers. They loved each other and were always concerned about the other. They had the occasional hospitalization of one and the other would be off kilter. They often made me giggle as they reminded me of my teenage daughters. One day they were sitting next to each other at a client gathering at our office. One of our home care aides complimented Catarina on her sweater. Angela promptly quipped “Of course you like it because it’s mine!” She then leaned in and inflicted Catarina with a nasty pinch on the arm!

At the age of 98 Catarina was hospitalized. It was amazing to me that Angela knew that her sister would most likely not return home. She had faith in God’s timing. She had lost her parents as well as another sister many years before and she recalled those times. Angela lived another 10 months in her home with home care. She died at the age of 101.

 

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Janet Faraone founded a non-medical, senior home care company in 2000; back before Home Care was a household word.  As a pioneer in the industry, she learned the intricacies of helping families navigate the needs of seniors and opened a care management division.  After more than a decade of helping seniors, she and her husband, Nick, sold their business to start a new chapter. Having been a long time friend of Seniors Guide and Home Care Choice, over lunch one day, it became clear that Janet’s wealth of knowledge could be incredibly helpful to our readers.  When she’s not hiking and skiing with her husband and three kids, or volunteering in the community, she’ll share her stories with us in the hopes that they will bring comfort and insight to caregivers and seniors.