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Respite Care: Sarah & Sam’s* Story
The bond that links our true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.
Jen came into the lives of Sarah* and Sam Smith* when Sam* was 85 and, while still healthy overall, he was becoming increasingly frail and forgetful due to advancing Dementia and diabetes. Sarah* was 81, battling cancer and moving through the stages of chemotherapy with minimal disruption to her life. Nevertheless, Sam’s* advancing frailty and memory loss put heavy demands on Sarah, which began to wear her down.
When Jen entered their lives, she immediately established rapport and trust with Sarah & Sam* and quickly became a respected ally in the daily battle against advancing age. She wove herself into the fabric of their lives, helping with the household chores, driving to doctor appointments and cheerfully dealing with all the personal care issues that can quickly rob an older person of their dignity. She is compassionate and caring.
Jen is reliable and is always on time, never looks at the clock, stays until the job is done and the needs are met. And her involvement didn’t end when she walked out the door. She often called on her off days to ensure that Sarah & Sam* were safe and comfortable. She takes initiative, does things that need to be done without being asked – she became a transparent cog in the wheel that kept the household running smoothly. Because Sarah & Sam* trusted that Jen would be there for them, Jen made it possible for them to do more everyday of their lives.
Jen connected with Sam* through humor and compassion. While there was no arresting his dementia, when Jen was around, Sam* perked up, got involved in his surroundings and his eyes regained their trademark sparkle. Jen became a daily event Sam* looked forward to and Sarah* came to rely on her more heavily as her health began to decline.
In retrospect, perhaps the most important role Jen played is that through her comfortable manner and efficient approach to her job, she was able to move her charges towards acceptance of the care they were increasingly in need of. Both very independent people, [Sarah & Sam* felt it was very important] that they continue to live in their home together. As time went by, both learned that it was okay to get other people to help when it was needed. By helping both of them accept this reality, Jen made more possible in their daily lives and in doing so, kept hope and love alive in their household.
Most importantly, Jen paved the way for a smooth transition when it was necessary to move Sam* into an assisted living facility. Because of his experience with Jen in their home, Sam* adjusted quickly to the new lifestyle. Continuing her presence at home enabled Sarah* to stay comfortable as she dealt with the demands of chemotherapy and later radiation. Jen made it possible for Sarah* to do more.
Jen made more possible for Sarah & Sam Smith* because she helped them remain together in their own home, through 59 years of marriage. She made more possible in their lives by helping them realize that the help she provided was supportive, caring and a necessary part of aging – so they could do more.
Sarah & Sam Smith* made more possible because they were able to open their home and hearts to Jen as if she were family. She returned their trust with respect and joy, making more possible for everyone.