Caregiver Spotlight: Seeing a Couple Though Their Final Days

July 2, 2018

Help in a hurry

When Marcia needed help in a hurry, BrightStar Care was there. Marcia’s husband, Ken, had suffered from inclusion-body myositis, a progressive, debilitating muscle disease, for more than a decade; but when he was suddenly released from the rehabilitation center to begin hospice at home, Marcia had two hours to find round-the-clock care.

She relied on BrightStar Care, and her family’s favorite caregiver came right over. John had been helping Marcia and Ken off and on for the better part of a year. He spent the first 12 hours with Ken after Ken arrived home and came back as often as his schedule allowed.

In good hands

Despite his disease, Ken had long resisted using a wheelchair. He only agreed when muscle weakness in his legs caused him to start falling quite often. Marcia became Ken’s caregiver, and when she needed to have surgery, she knew they would need help at home.

“My husband had always resisted that idea, but we had to have someone come in,” she says. A nurse suggested BrightStar Care in Naperville, Illinois. “They sent John over. He was outstanding, professional, and so compassionate,” Marcia recalls.

Both quiet men, Ken and John got along perfectly. “John respected Kenny’s privacy and didn’t force him to do anything,” she says. “John had to do a lot of private things,” Marcia adds, but he did them in a way that preserved her husband’s dignity.

By his side

When Ken was admitted to the hospital for an intestinal blockage, John stayed with Ken until Marcia could get there. “John tried his best, no matter what, to be available, and I know he had other (clients),” Marcia says. Complications after surgery led Ken to hospice care, where his health declined.

Ken was released from hospice suddenly, and Marcia had only a couple hours to arrange for help at home. “John was there that first night instead of some stranger,” Marcia says. He arrived at 8 p.m. and stayed overnight. “I tried to do as much as possible to make (Ken) feel comfortable,” John explains.

Genuine comfort

Helping people feeds John’s soul. He has always enjoyed talking to people and helping them solve problems. Marcia praises John’s patience and compassion as key personality traits. “He’s a friend, and a very nice one,” says Marcia.

John managed a gas station for 15 years before becoming a caregiver. In 2017, he was named BrightStar Care of Naperville’s Employee of the Year. “Most of the elderly feel down, and they feel like nobody. I try to make them feel like, ‘No, you’re still somebody,’” John says. When it comes to Ken and Marcia, “It became not just work but like family,” he says.

John and his wife attended Ken’s funeral, and John keeps in touch with Marcia to see how she’s doing. “John was a wonderful blessing, as was the entire BrightStar Care team,” Marcia says. “They made a terrible and very sad situation tolerable for both of us,” she adds.