Angela Diaz-Burris began caregiving as a young teenager as a volunteer working with kids who had developmental disabilities. She regularly cared for a little boy with cerebral palsy and was devastated when he passed away under her care. As a young girl, most of us would have been too traumatized to continue caregiving, and too scared to experience that loss again. However, Angela was different, and her passion for caregiving gave her strength and allowed her to continue to help people.
Today, Angela works as a professional caregiver in Parker, CO. “I feel honored when I am able to sit next to a client who may be at the end of their journey and hold their hand or place my hand on their forehead to reassure them that it is ok, that they are not alone, and it’s ok if they need to go. Nothing pains me more than to think of a person alone, in pain, and having to go through the end of life stages without reassurance and a loving hand to be there with them.”
“I was so impressed that Angela did not quit caregiving when the young man died,” says Barbara McVicker, an expert panel judge, speaker, and author of Stuck in the Middle: Shared Stories and Tips on Caring for Mom and Dad. “She took the experiences she has had in caregiving and turned them into learning experiences. She understands the needs of her patients and is insightful and empathetic. She is truly and ‘old soul’!”
Approximately 10 years ago, Pat Concienne’s wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Soon she could no longer remember her home, family, or husband. She would often try to escape and find her ‘family’. Pat tried desperately to care for her even though she no longer remembered him. As Pat’s wife continued to grow worse, he had to give up all the activities he used to love in order to care for her. He would even drive around to their past homes to try to help her to remember something. Finally, Pat’s daughters convinced him to place his wife in an Alzheimer’s care facility.
Placement did nothing to change Pat’s dedication to his wife. He spent every day by her side; fed her every meal, brought clothes to make sure she looked nice, applied her favorite perfume, and made sure every family function was held in her home.
More than 65 million Americans serve as a caregiver to an aging family member or loved one. Overall, these unpaid caregivers contribute nearly $375 billion in unpaid services. These caregivers deserve much more support and recognition than they often receive.
Both of these grand prize winners will be awarded a weekend getaway from SeniorHomes.com, and the family caregiver category winner will also receive a complimentary respite stay for a loved one, courtesy of program co-sponsor Emeritus Senior Living.
SeniorHomes.com is a free resource for people looking for senior housing or senior care for a loved one or for themselves.
Emeritus Corporation is a national provider of senior living services operating 485 communities in 44 states.