We Are Here Through It All: From Care Provider to Care Recipient
When Phyllis Jones suffered two strokes in 2015, there was no doubt in her mind who she wanted by her side. “I knew Family Lifeline was the best choice,” she says. Family Lifeline’s Living Well programming for older adults, persons with disabilities, and their caregivers helps individuals remain living well in community settings of their choosing, where they feel safe, connected, healthy, and engaged.
Before needing Living Well services herself, Ms. Jones spent six years as a Family Lifeline personal care aide. She loved the work and said it was a pleasure going into the home every morning. She built a family with her fellow care providers and trusted them completely. “There were people I enjoyed,” she said. “I could get someone who would be there for me and would look out for me.”
The transition from giver to receiver of care was not easy for Ms. Jones. Her strokes left her with limited mobility. She fell into a depression. “When you age,” she explains, “there are a lot of things you can’t do anymore. You must be more cautious because your body isn’t the same as it used to be.” Ms. Jones admits that it has been a difficult year for her health, with multiple operations, chronic back pain, and of course the threat of COVID-19.
Cindy Wesley began caring for Ms. Jones as she was emerging from her depression. With time, patience, and support from Ms. Wesley, Ms. Jones gradually regained her strength and spirit. Now the two women spend six days a week in Ms. Jones’ fourth-floor Jackson Ward apartment, cooking meals, tidying up, and spending a whole lot of time chatting and laughing. “This lady will make sure that I’m okay no matter what,” Ms. Jones says about Ms. Wesley. “She’s always asking me, ‘What else do you need?’”
To Ms. Jones, health means being able to do the things you enjoy. With Ms. Wesley there, Ms. Jones remains happily at home in her sunny apartment filled with plants and pictures of family. One of her favorite pastimes is caring for the devil’s ivy that grows by her window. “These are my babies,” she says, watering it with homemade fertilizer. As Ms. Jones cares for her plants, Ms. Wesley sits nearby watching attentively.
Every morning, Ms. Jones waits on her patio for Ms. Wesley’s car to turn the corner. She does not take Ms. Wesley’s commitment for granted. As a provider, she knows how difficult caregiving can be. As a client, she understands how essential care is. She says, “It has been a true blessing for Family Lifeline to come and make sure I’m alright.”