In honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, during the month of September we are spotlighting stories our franchisees have shared on how their businesses are part of the “Business of Care.” For more information on how you can be part of the business care, visit our Franchise Website.
"I believe I will live a very longer life since I have your service.'
These are the words of Deb N., a woman living with Alzheimer's disease, after our caregiving team had been with her for two years.
Her husband Jim had realized two years before that they were desperate. Deb's condition had worsened to the point that she was essentially inert—continually despondent, crying every day, not talkative, not wanting to eat, easily frightened and intolerant of many things, including loud noises. Towels were placed over all mirrors because the stranger that she saw in the mirror made her very scared.
Jim chose Homewatch CareGivers with the hope that someone could ‘be there’ in the house with her while Jim worked second shift as a warehouseman, a job he could not afford to quit. The experience that Homewatch CareGivers had with Alzheimer's disease made our team believe we could make a difference in the lives of another family, exceeding Jim's modest expectation of ‘just being there’ with Deb.
When Homewatch CareGivers’ dementia specialists started, they used proven best practices and approaches with Deb, meant to make her feel more ‘like the boss.’ For instance, when Deb heard loud noises, her caregiver would calmly and reassuringly redirect her to Breezy, the family dog that Deb liked. Caregivers sought to slowly build up her confidence and ability to interact, starting with simply asking her about skydiving, a hobby she took seriously earlier in life. An excited ‘spark’ came across Deb's eyes, as though no one had asked her about it before. Deb would become more and more confident and animated about this subject, building up her esteem and getting her to feel like an expert. The caregivers engaged her further by asking to see her skydiving photo albums, which she did very proudly. They suggested that she take them through other albums too, which she loved. After a couple months of time with Homewatch CareGivers, Deb actually would start saying things like, ‘You know, I think I can do anything!’
One cold and snowy day before the start of our shift, Deb left the house and wandered a half-mile to a very busy street. She was very lost, confused and distraught. Her caregiver Julie was driving on this street to her shift and saw Deb walking, and was able to pull over and get Deb into her car. Despite the ease with which Julie did this, Deb and Jim always referred to Julie as their ‘angel.’
Deb had, in the end, developed her interpersonal skills and confidence robustly compared to the start of our care. Deb's testimonial included ‘If I didn't have your services, I would be alone and being alone is scary.’
She also wrote, ‘I believe I will live a very longer life since I have your service.’ Prophetically, the words in that sentence forebode a sad conclusion. Her husband Jim's health became suddenly very acute. He had to quit his job and was forced to place Deb in a care facility, due to finances and his inability to care for Deb himself. Deb passed away a few weeks after her Homewatch CareGivers services stopped.
We are proud to have been part of making Deb’s final days more comfortable.”
—Jeff Swain, Homewatch CareGivers of Grand Rapids, Michigan