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Program Spotlight: A Helping Hand

LCS Home Care program helps seniors and people with disabilities in Washington’s Pierce and Kitsap Counties maintain their independence.

By Beth Ann Johnson

Annie

photoAnnie’s life is divided into “before” and “after”. “Before” is the time before her father’s stroke, before he came to live with Annie and her family, before she had to juggle her family’s needs with the needs of her father, while trying to hold a job.

As Annie struggled to hold everything together, she became more distant from everyone - her family, friends, and co-workers. Most of her energy went into caring for her father. As his health continued to slide downhill, she found herself more worried. When her father first came to live with them, he could be left alone for most of the day. But twice he wandered off and Annie had spent hours looking for him. She took time off from work to care for her dad, but found herself resenting all that she had given up.

A co-worker suggested she look into hiring a caregiver. At first Annie resisted the idea. She felt that it was her duty to care for her father. But she realized that she was missing out on important events in her children’s lives.

After carefully checking into her options, Annie chose Lutheran Community Services’ Home Care program.

LCS Senior & Disability Services in the Tacoma/Pierce County area include:
LCS Senior & Disability Services in the Bremerton/Kitsap County area include:

Jenni is now part of Annie’s “after”. She arrives each day to care for Annie’s father, allowing Annie to return to work, her friends, and most important, her family. “I had forgotten what it was like to laugh,” Annie admits. “I had isolated myself from everything and everyone except caring for Dad.”

Today 42% of working women are caring for a parent or in-law, as well as children. Many are unaware that options such as respite and home care are available to help them. For some the need is short- term, such as caring for a family member recovering from surgery or injuries. For others, the need is ongoing, as they cope with a family member no longer able to be left on their own.

For Annie and her family, having a caregiver has made a big difference. She has been able to balance all the pieces of her life. The time she spends with her dad she now treasures.

Evelyn

Evelyn knew she was slowing down. At 78, she just couldn’t do everything that she used to do on her own. But her only daughter, Karen, lived in California with her husband and kids.

photoKaren and the family cleaned up and helped fill Evelyn’s pantry cupboard with food, but Karen worried about how her mother would get along when the family returned to California. She knew her mother did not want to move, leaving her friends and church behind. Karen worried about how Evelyn would do on her own.

Then one of Evelyn’s friends told Karen about Home Care. A home care aid could help Evelyn with her housework, and drive her to the grocery store or to doctor’s appointments. Karen called Lutheran Community Services, and set up an appointment with a Care Planner for an assessment.

Evelyn wasn’t sure she wanted a stranger in her home, but after meeting with the Care Planner, she admitted that she could use a few hours of help each week. Then she met Betty, her homecare aid.

Betty arrived at the door with her trademark smile in place. They sat and talked for a few minutes, then Betty went to work, mopping the kitchen floor, vacuuming, and taking out the garbage.

At the end of her first visit, Evelyn knew that Betty was just person she needed. On her second visit, Betty drove Evelyn to the grocery store and cooked lunch for her. Evelyn, was able to get more rest, and enjoy some of the activities she loved - like taking a walk in her on a sunny day.

And Karen can relax too. After talking to her mother, and chatting with Betty on the phone, Karen knew her mother was getting the help she needed.

When Karen and her family came for a visit, Karen was shocked. Her mother’s house, which had always been white-glove clean, was cluttered with newspapers and magazines. The pantry and freezer were both almost bare. Evelyn did not want to worry her daughter, so she had not told her how keeping up with the housework was getting to be too much for her. Nor had she mentioned that she was no longer comfortable driving, especially at night.

For information on Home Care, and other Senior & Disability Services:
In the Tacoma/Pierce County area: 253/305-0979, 253/272-8433 or 800/335-8433 or click here.
In the Bremerton/Kitsap County area call: 360/377-5511 or click here.