October Story of the Month – A Lifelong Commitment

Watching the health of your lifelong partner decline is a heartbreaking experience. After a lifetime together, nothing really prepares you for the suffering you will witness or the exhaustion you will endure in becoming your spouse’s primary caregiver.

Guillermo, a resident at AMCAL’s Hollenbeck Terrace, is a devoted husband who would do anything to help his wife who struggles with mobility as her health is rapidly declining.

Guillermo often felt ill prepared to help his wife and very isolated in his own life as he was all consumed with caring for his wife. 

At Guillermo’s age, many of his friends faced their own health crisis and his grown children were busy with their own families. This made Guillermo reluctant to bother them with his troubles, but he also knew he wouldn’t be able to continue to care for his wife alone. His own health was affected and though Guillermo didn’t think of himself as depressed, it was getting more difficult by the day to get a good night’s sleep and have enough energy to get through his daily tasks. This is the state he was in when Guillermo met Venessa, LifeSTEPS Director of Social Services, at Hollenbeck Terrace.

Venessa immediately recognized that Guillermo needed some extra support for his own emotional health and also support to find resources that would help his wife with her physical care. Venessa set up weekly check-ins to see how he was doing and to help him connect with local resources. Venessa worked with Guillermo to secure an in-home health aide for his wife.  Since the doctor had previously dismissed this care option, Venessa advocated on the couple’s behalf for the doctor to reconsider. Together they worked on the process to get his wife the in-home care she needed from In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and eventually their efforts paid off.

Guillermo no longer feels all alone in caring for his wife. The IHSS support has truly been a lifesaver for both Guillermo and his wife. Guillermo is now able to attend LifeSTEPS classes and social events while he knows his wife is well taken care of.  Having more social interaction with others in his community has lifted Guillermo’s depression as well.

He is so grateful LifeSTEPS services were there for him–right within his own home community. It doesn’t change how very hard it is to watch your loved one’s health decline, but it makes it a little easier to bear knowing they can both continue to live together as a couple, sharing a home as they have done for over 50 years.

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