Like many of you, Sandra Falconeri knows that caring for an aging and disabled parent isn’t easy. Sandra, who raised her own four children, is the only child and devoted caregiver to her mother, Anita. She does everything possible to provide the best possible care for
her mother despite substantial personal sacrifices. Even as Anita’s Alzheimer’s disease progressed from early stage to requiring 24 hour supervision, Sandra never deviated from her commitment to keep her mother living in the family home until no longer a feasible option.
Though she had always lived with Sandra and her family, Anita led an active life prior to the onset of dementia. She had been a familiar face at the Bernardsville ShopRite until memory issues forced her to retire at age 87. After doctors confirmed her mom’s diagnosis in 2007, Sandra found herself and her family facing major obstacles, especially financial. No longer able to work full time,Sandra lost her benefits. When Anita had serious medical issues including a fractured hip, Sandra needed to stop working completely for a period of time.
In 2008, Anita started attending the VNA of Somerset Hills Adult Day Center. She came two days a week allowing Sandra to return to work part time, knowing that her mom was happy and well cared for in a safe environment. As daily caregiving requirements quickly increased, Sandra needed more help. With funding assistance secured through the VNA Respite Care program, Anita began attending the Center five days a week. “I call them my angels,” said Anita of the Adult Day Center staff. “You have no idea what it means to have this program.”
Not only is Sandra is a devoted caregiver, she always manages to maintain a positive attitude. “Sandra is a fantastic role model for those who know her and for other caregivers,” said Debra Massa, Respite Coordinator at the VNA. “She is an extremely patient and upbeat caregiver. She even cheers up the staff,” added Maria Keenen, Manager of the Adult Day Center. “The quality of care she provides her mother is outstanding. For example, she always has her dressed beautifully.” When asked how she continues to remain optimistic while managing daily caregiving challenges, Sandra smiles. “I just take every day as it comes.” Sandra was recently honored by a local corporation for her efforts and as an inspiration to others in a similar situation.
We understand that the responsibilities of caring for an elderly loved one while managing your own life can be exhausting and overwhelming. For more information about VNA caregiver resources, the Adult Day Center, or the Respite Care Program, visit us online at
www.visitingnurse.org or call 908-766-0180.