A Smile, a Touch, a Giggle

As Rosalynn Carter once said, “Caregiving is a universal subject. There are only four kinds of people in this world:

  • Those who have been caregivers
  • Those who currently are caregivers
  • Those who will be caregivers
  • Those who will need caregivers

I have been most, and suspect I will have been all by the time my life is over.

I was a caregiver for my mother. I hired a professional caregiver to care for my father who lived his last months in my home. Now I help coordinate professional home health care for my mother-in-law who desires to remain in her own apartment in familiar surroundings.

 All three experiences were different but have a common thread. Whether paid or unpaid, caregivers do what they do out of love and necessity.  When someone we know and love is vulnerable, it is our family and societal responsibility to assist to the best of our ability.

I was fortunate to have been able to hire professional caregivers to assist with care for my father and mother-in-law.

My father was physically frail and needed personal care services that I was unable and unwilling to provide. For his dignity and to preserve my role as daughter, it was best to hire a professional.

My decision to hire an agency aide was simple one. I wanted the support of an organization that would train, supervise, and be responsible for replacement assistance if the aide didn’t show up, wasn’t a good fit for our family, or had an emergency. I wanted to know that I wasn’t on my own in the scary job of care-giving.

I called Freedom Home Healthcare – years before I worked there – to be the organization to provide the aide services we needed.

I had brought my father, who was living in California at the time, cross country to live with me. After a serious fall and injury that led to physical and cognitive decline, it was not possible for me to be an effective long distance caregiver.

As often happens, the plane from California was delayed in arriving.  When we arrived home at 12:30 am, the Freedom aide was waiting for us, ready to assist my father to his room and get him settled after the long journey.

From that moment on, Hannah became an integral part of all of our lives. She was a delight  from the minute she walked into the house.  She was caring, loving and compassionate. She was a perfect fit for us – competent, willing, joyful, loving and anxious to do a good job.

Hannah was from Ghana, and although she had an accent, and my father was hard of hearing, they communicated beautifully.  Only 10 percent of communication is verbal and the other 90 percent being made up of gestures, expressions and body language.

Hannah’s smiles and gentle ways spoke volumes to my dad and me. I often heard laughter coming from my father’s room, although I’m convinced that neither knew exactly what the joke was.

One afternoon, while my dad was sleeping, Hannah and my husband were watching the 2006 World Cup Soccer match between the USA and Ghana. They were clearly enjoying the game together as I could hear a lot of cheering coming from both of them.

Four years later in 2010, after my dad had been gone for over 3 years, during the re-match between Ghana and the USA, the phone rang and it was Hannah.  She was now living in Boston, doing another type of work, but remembered her time with our family and just wanted to say hello.

I will be forever grateful to Hannah for helping to make the end of my father’s life peaceful and comforting. It was sometime after this personal experience as a client who benefited greatly from the services from Freedom Home Healthcare that I started working for the company.

Although my degree in Gerontology had afforded me many career opportunities caring for and about the elderly, I had never worked in home care.  My professional and personal goals are now aligned.  I am privileged to be able to help families experience the peace of mind and support I felt as a caregiver.

~ Candy Blau, MA