1,000,000 Hearts and Homes Client Milestone Spotlight: Lorraine D. | Assistive Care
New Jersey Woman Celebrates 94th Birthday Living Independently
“Every one of my children has asked me to come live with them. I say no, I’m a very independent lady. I don’t want to live with my children. Just make sure you don’t forget I’m here.”
~ BAYADA Client Lorraine D.
Lorraine D. is a strong, independent woman who has seen a lot in her 94 years. She attended Syracuse University during World War II and graduated with a double major in business and design. She has been married and widowed twice, losing her first husband to polio in 1954. Mrs. D. raised five children—four born to her, one a stepson—and has been living alone since her second husband passed 25 years ago. She’s moved from their family home into an apartment, then into a smaller apartment after the recession of 2008. She’s been living in the same apartment complex for seniors ever since.
“I like it here; it’s pleasant,” Mrs. D. says in her practical, upbeat way. “I have very good friends here. We play bingo three times a week. We have fun; I just do it to be social. What else are old folks going to do?” she laughs. “You’ve got to do something. If I need anything, I go knock on my neighbor’s door.”
A big, sudden adjustment late in life
One morning a few years ago, Mrs. D. woke up to discover that something was seriously wrong. She lost vision in one of her eyes, and she could see very little with the other. Her eye doctor’s exam showed that she’d suffered a blood clot behind her retina, and that there was nothing they could do to restore her sight. She was diagnosed as legally blind.
“I worked full-time until I was 84, and I kept driving until I lost my eyesight,” Mrs. D. recalls. “I gave up my car and life as I knew it. That didn’t feel good. I think I cried for a week. And then I said to myself, Be a big girl. Stop the nonsense and make the best you can out of it. There are a lot of people out there in the world who have it worse than you.”
Without a car, Mrs. D. started taking a taxi to the grocery store and relied on the kindness of strangers to help her identify products on the shelves and to find the right denominations of dollar bills in her wallet. Of course, that was enough to make her adult children very nervous. And the cost of taxis was becoming a pain point for Mrs. D. She needed a companion.
A new friend to make life easier
Enter BAYADA Home Health Care in Verona, New Jersey. The BAYADA service office team started providing companionship and household support services for Mrs. D. in August 2018. BAYADA Certified Home Health Aide Mary R. has been with Mrs. D. from the beginning. “She arrives at my door precisely at 9:00 am, every Monday through Friday, and she asks, Okay, what are we doing today?” Mrs. D. explains. “Mary’s a very nice person; she does anything I ask. She takes me shopping and to all my doctor appointments. We go to the library to get my books on CD. She keeps the house neat and clean. I’m happy, she’s happy—we’re both happy.”
Mary agrees. “I love what I do because I get to see how different people handle all kinds of life’s challenges. It’s kind of amazing,” she says. “Don’t be fooled by her straightforward delivery; Mrs. D. is an optimist. She is a warm person, always with so much to say. I guess you learn a thing or two with all that life experience!”
In the time they spend together, these two are never at a loss for words. Mrs. D. and Mary enjoy each other’s company very much and feel grateful for the friendship they’ve developed.
As strong and independent as she is, though, Mrs. D. summarizes her experience with home health care in her characteristically no-nonsense way, “Mary and I are best buddies. There’s nothing I can say that isn’t good. If there were, I would tell you, believe me!”