If there was an award given out for caregiving, surely Helen Torchia would have received it by now. She has been caring for her sister-in-law Angie for the last 13 years and it has been a journey filled with both rewards and challenges. Helen's journey began when Angie's own daughter died and someone had to fill the caregiving void left behind. Helen offered to take on that role and set out to keep Angie engaged and socially connected. She took her on outings and looked after daily tasks like doing the laundry and even drove her to doctor's appointments.
Then, four months later, Angie had a stroke, and caregiving became much more difficult.
"She began forgetting the names of people, she also started experiencing a lot of fear and was calling us constantly; crying on the phone that she was lonely and scared," Helen explained. Needless to say, it was very hard on everyone and it was about to get a whole lot harder. Last July Angie fell and lay on the floor for 17 hours. It was a traumatizing experience, and it took a six week hospital stay for Angie to fully recover. It was then Helen decided her sister-in-law needed Lifeline.
Angie was resistant at first and did not want to wear the button, but after yet another fall she eventually agreed and has worn it ever since. "That was a big weight off my shoulders. The Lifeline people were so amazing and kind to me as well, letting me know she was all right. It meant a lot to me that I didn't have to worry about her as much," Helen said.
Victoria Lifeline's education facilitator Vicki Russenholt even did a home visit with Angie to make sure she understood the service and the importance of wearing the button 24 hours a day. "Vicki was so good with her, she really knows how to talk to people. Vicki also helped me as a caregiver and gave me so much information that helped me with other things, including an easy to use TV remote!" Angie was calling Helen at all hours of the night because she couldn't work the TV remote and Vicki let her know about a universal remote designed especially for seniors with only a few large buttons that is so much easier to use. Sometimes it's the little things that can make such a big difference.
Helen's only regret is that she didn't arrange to get Lifeline sooner for her sister-in-law.
If you are a caregiver and would like some information on how Victoria Lifeline can help someone you love and give you some much needed peace of mind, please contact our education facilitators to arrange an over the phone or in-person consultation.
Thank you Helen for sharing your story!