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BE MY PAL: A Pennsylvania woman and her caregiver have a lot to celebrate on “Galentines Day”

Many people are transforming Valentine’s Day into “Galentines Day” or “Palentines” Day – making this week an opportunity to celebrate all the friends and colleagues that enrich our lives. That could include a lot of caregivers and clients!  

Karen S. and Donna W. are a caregiver and client in Dubois, PA who have been enjoying each other’s company for six months now.  

“We do a lot of laughing,” said Donna, a Help at Home client. “I love to talk, and she is a good listener.”   

A prayer answered: A caregiver helps Donna stay active after a fall  

Donna had been living independently until a bad fall damaged her artificial hip. Doctors told her it was very important that she not fall again.  

Suddenly, Donna was using a wheelchair and walker to get around – and was nervous about falling in a way she had never been before. Her son and daughter-in-law were supportive, but they both have jobs and quickly came to realize they needed more help.  

Donna realized it was time to get a caregiver, but worried that it would be a lot of time to spend with a stranger.  

“I was between a rock and a hard place, a valley and mountain,” she said. “So I told the Lord to send me someone that is compatible with me – and he did that.” 

Karen and Donna have a good relationship that is noticeable to those around them. At one Help at Home company picnic, they were described as “two peas in a pod.”  

“We just click,” Karen said.  

Good caregiving/client relationships start with respect  

Donna said one of her concerns had been that a caregiver would come in and “take over” her home, giving her little choice in the way things were done. But from the beginning, Karen put Donna’s mind at ease.  

“I tell her that I want to assist you,” Karen said. “I don’t want to take away your independence.” 

For example, Donna said she was nervous about falling while getting into the shower, but she was also nervous about getting more help than she wanted! On the first day, Karen set the tone by asking: “What is it that you want me to do in assisting you?” 

That simple question put Donna at ease, assuring her that she would still have control.  

Karen said that she and Donna were lucky that they enjoyed some of the same jokes and fun activities – but it’s the mutual respect that would have made the relationship successful even if they hadn’t been so much alike.  

When caregivers and clients are good matches, the hours fly by 

Donna had also been worried that the days would seem long with a stranger in her house, but she and Karen agree that the time flies by.  

In the morning, they usually have a list of things that need to be done – meal prep, hygiene help or errands and doctor’s appointments. But from noon to 2, they are usually able to have a bit more fun. Having lunch on the way home from a doctor’s appointment “puts a spring in my wheel,” said Donna, who doesn’t get to eat out as much now that she can’t drive.  

“Lunch is very important,” said Karen with a laugh.  

In the afternoons when they aren’t out and about, they sometimes make candy, watch a movie, or work on a crocheted scarf. Donna is enjoying teaching Karen to crochet!