A caregiver posing for a picture with her elderly mother and another caregiver

They Held Me Up, They Guided Me, They Held on Tight

In 2014, Wanda’s 87-year-old mother Constance suffered a stroke on a camping trip. Up to that point, Constance had been independent, strong, and in love with life. “In her mind, she was forever 20,” says Wanda, a resident of Rehoboth, MA.

Now Constance was lying in a hospital bed, trying to relearn her life. And at age 62, Wanda was learning a new way of being a daughter. Because her family consisted only of her parents and a sister, Wanda became her mother’s caregiver. Caregiving was not new to Wanda. She had owned and run a childcare center for 25 years. But the complexity of options for long term care was new territory. Wanda remembers feeling lost and confused as she researched nursing facilities and alternative care. “I was feeling more helpless by the day,” Wanda recalls. Those feelings were compounded after Constance began recovering and was transferred first to a rehabilitation center, then to a nursing facility. In both locations, Wanda noted many signs of neglect and decided to bring Constance home. But the very day Constance was to leave the nursing facility, she fell and fractured her hip. Not knowing where to turn, Wanda contacted Bristol Elder Services of Fall River, MA, who connected her with the Adult Foster Care (also known as Structured Family Caregiving) program from Seniorlink & Caregiver Homes. That’s when everything started to change for the better. Within a day of contacting Bristol Elder Services, Wanda was visited at home by a Seniorlink & Caregiver Homes representative to explain the program. A nurse performed a complete assessment and designed a personal care plan for Constance. The team then helped Wanda navigate the day-to-day complexities of caring for someone at home. “Seniorlink & Caregiver Homes offered me access to medical information and support and coaching,” Wanda says. “My feeling of community returned and I felt hope and encouragement and less stress.”

As part of the program, Wanda received a monthly financial stipend, which paid for the endless flow of supplies, equipment, and prescriptions. She was visited regularly by her Seniorlink & Caregiver Homes nurse and social worker. “They made me feel part of a larger network of caring professionals,” Wanda says. The Careforth app, Vela, helped Wanda document her mother’s daily health data. “Vela gave me the opportunity to be in charge of important information,” Wanda notes.

And Constance thrived. “We packed mom up and took her wherever we went,” says Wanda. “She was vital again and felt part of the world around her.”

Eventually, Constance’s health declined, and four years after her stroke, she passed away peacefully at home. “She left on her terms,” Wanda says. “She still thought she was 20, thanks to the care I was allowed to give her.”

Wanda feels grateful for what she was able to accomplish with the help she received. “Seniorlink & Caregiver Homes allowed me to give my mother what she wanted—to be home with family, loved, cared for, and treated with dignity.” Her care team supported her every step of the way, says Wanda, summing it up this way: “They held me up, they guided me. They held on tight.”

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