Caring is at the heart in the home

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Ask anyone who opens opens their heart and their home to a sick parent or debilitating spouse in need of 24/7 homecare—why do they do it? Chances are they will tell you it’s grueling, backbreaking work.But eventually, they admit the real reasons. It brings them a sense of closeness, purpose, and an enormous sense of personal reward.

But when the day comes—and they find themselves grieving the loss of a husband, mother or friend—many will express gratefulness that they set aside time to be there and give much needed care to that special someone in their life.

Mary Deiter, an Illinois resident, is one such person whose love and compassion are dedicated to helping her mother, who has late stage breast cancer.Instead of sending her mother to a nursing home, Mary invited her to live at home where she could care for her.

Eventually, Mary was called to roll up her sleeves and take on yet another caregiving responsibility when her husband received the crushing diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

But it wasn’t supposed to work out this way for Mary or her husband.

“My mother moved in with us a couple of years ago.Our intention was to take care of her. But the tables turned and we ended up taking care of my husband,” she explained.

Like Mary, many Americans find themselves thrust into the role of home caregiver with loved ones.

An estimated 65% of aging adults with long term care needs rely on family and friends to provide assistance, says a report from the Family Caregiver Alliance National Center on Caregiving.And it’s this kind of support that enables older adults to continue living in the comfort of their homes under the care of their families and friends as opposed to living in long term care faculties or nursing homes.

Trends like these continue to rise as the population ages.The number of adult family caregivers jumped from 30% in 2010 to 39% in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center and the California HealthCare Foundation.

These rising home healthcare trends demonstrate why it’s important that caregivers have the necessary tools and support in place when taking on the daunting role of caring for a medically dependent family member at home.

Since Mary’s husband lost use of his limbs when she was providing his care, he relied on her for almost everything.But that didn’t stop her from drawing on all the positive memories they shared together while she gave comfort, care, and reassurance to her husband—whose health rapidly declined and led to his passing.

“It made me feel like I was doing a good job,” she says, explaining how she fed and bathed him. In addition, she tended to his skin to prevent painful infections caused by bedsores, something common among people confined to a bed long term.

As a certified nurse’s assistant, Mary knew the risks associated with bedsores and how even a small infection could lead to loss of limb—or worse—become life threatening.

“I know how dangerous bedsores can be—so to keep his skin free and clear [of bedsores] for so long, it was incredible—even the people at the hospice and the visiting nurses were impressed,” she said.

But the nurses were likely more impressed by Mary’s compassion and that she gave her husband something no one else could give—the best possible care—something no hospital or hired professional could provide better than she herself.