Before I started working for Freedom Home Healthcare, home care was something I never really thought about. Even while working for an assisted living for five years of my life, the concept of a caregiver at home never crossed my mind.
It wasn’t until five years ago that I got my first glimpse. At 19 years old, home care was the very last thing on my mind. I barely had an understanding of it, let alone its existence.
From birth, my Aunt was probably my best friend. The memories that we shared are ones that I will hold in my heart forever. Everything from our late night talks and sleepovers, to our vacations to Wildwood, New Jersey with my her, my mother, and sister; everything holds a deep and beautiful memory. We were so close, and at only 11 years apart in age, she always understood me.
Sadly, my aunt was a very sick woman. At the age of 27, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Devastated, my family and I all remained as strong as we could. Unfortunately, that was only the first time around. She won her fight the first time, but at the premature age of 31, she lost her battle. We all attempted to remain as strong as we possibly could, but we could only handle so much and we needed help.
She went on hospice and my mother became her primary caregiver, staying up all hours of the night while at home, making sure my aunt remained as comfortable as she possibly could. With the fear of burning out, my mother reached out to her good friend, Barbra London, who was able to lend a helping hand, and that’s where it began. This overwhelming and distressing part of our lives was one that I will never forget, but I will also never overlook the relief of having a professional caregiver in the home. Although my mother barely slept, she was able to step away and shut her eyes, even if it were for an hour or two. My mother was able to do this because she knew that someone was there to care for my aunt, to watch over her and make sure that the remaining moments of her life were content and calm. Her caregiver, Jennifer, with my family, stayed by my aunt’s side every moment and step of the way. Jennifer helped my mother preserve my aunt’s quality of life and was extremely patient and kind during the entire process. I was, and forever will be, grateful to this woman for allowing my mother to have a partial weight lifted off of her shoulders. On January 29, 2006, my aunt passed away in her home, surrounded by her family, and Jennifer.
Years passed, and I coincidentally started working for Freedom Eldercare in 2010. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with one of our nurses, that I realized it was Freedom who cared for my aunt and was there for my family during this very difficult time. I didn’t know how to feel. All I know is that to this day, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and that’s when I understood. That is the moment I understood what home care was and the impact it can have not just on the patient, but on an entire family and it’s dynamic. I understood how other families feel when they see a loved one suffer and the relief they feel knowing there is someone to care for them. Most importantly, I understood how significant home care is to those who want to remain in their home and be surrounded by the comfort of that home when they are at the end of their life.
~ Nicole Brierty