Daughter Reflects on How Home Care Aide Is “Life” for Her Mom
Ellyn Kessler says of her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, “My mom, who was always loving, giving, active, and independent, was suddenly alone and dependent. I had one chance to get this right and care for my mom with the love that she had always shown to everyone.” This Sunday, Mother’s Day, we celebrate that love.
As a lawyer in private practice, Ellyn knew that the most loving thing she could do was make sure she had the support she needed to ensure her mother had the necessary care while Ellyn continued to make a living. She says, “My goal was to give her the security of living at home with dignity, to maintain her abilities as long as I could, and to keep her spirits strong.” Ellyn moved her mother close to where she lived, and through an agency, hired a home care aide to assist her mother.
Several years later, Ellyn says, the home care aide is “life for my mom. Not only does she do the standard tasks of dressing, bathing, toileting, and ensuring my mom is safe,” says Ellyn, but “she does meal planning, food shopping, cooking. She watches to see if my mom is not feeling well or if something is not right. And she maintains her quality of life through music, dancing, taking her outdoors, involving her in conversation, laughter, taking her to the community center.”
Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s moods, their ability to communicate their needs, their ability to follow directions. Ellyn is amazed at the skill it takes to care for her mother, something she knows she couldn’t possibly do on her own. But she is also dismayed by the fact that the aide who cares with such compassion and skill for her mom — and is in her 60s, like Ellyn — is not paid overtime, has no benefits, and no retirement. Consequently, Ellyn has joined the Campaign for Fair Pay. She says, “The enormous contribution of the home care worker needs to be recognized as an important contribution to society, with compensation for all workers guaranteed.”
— by Karen Kahn, PHI Director of Communications