MACON, Ga. — It’s special whenever another human being reaches out to care for someone else. It’s giving a piece of your heart, time and compassion.
This month, we’re highlighting people that go above and beyond… people who give themselves in amazing ways to help others.
When a hospital says to a family, 'You need to consider a nursing home,' it's a gut-wrenching decision. Few of us can provide around the clock care for a loved one. That includes learning new medical skills, complete coordination for doctors visits, and emotional support.
One family is choosing to keep their cherished matriarch secure at home.
"Her kidneys had started to fail. They were failing fast. She's always had her challenges; she had open heart surgery in 2007, she had a stroke in 2010," said Valencia.
The Brown Bunch, as they were affectionately known, are all grown up now. The four siblings had a decision to make - the kind that will always stay with you.
"I knew she would give up because that's not what she wanted. So... it wasn't a hard decision to bring her home," said Valencia.
All of the Browns help out day-to-day.
"Everyone knows the hardest question is: What do you want to eat," said grandson, A.J., who cooks all the meals.
But Valencia is the main caregiver of her mother, Geraldine. Sure, it was a swift choice to bring the matriarch of the family home and not send her to a nursing home, but making it happen? Not so easy.
"You know it's a learning curve when you have to learn how to operate equipment, how to give shots, all of that stuff," said Valencia.
Stuff like coordinating doctors visits and doling out more than two dozen pills a day. It's a lot of work, but Geraldine worked just as hard for her kids and she never left Valencia's side when sickle cell anemia took her down repeatedly as a kid.
"She held my hand, she didn't go home. If I was in the hospital [for] five days, she was there five days," said Valencia. "My dad would bring her clothes to change. She would shower there."
Her father Julius was caring too -- a gentle giant at 6'3". He died after the couple was married 57 years.
"I haven't completely turned that loose. I think about him all the time. I say God put us together and kept us together," said Geraldine.
"Her soulmate passed away, so she probably would have felt like she had nothing else to live for," said Valencia.
Now, the roles are reversed and Geraldine has so much gratitude for the way things turned out.
"I think about people that don't have children and they seem forgotten," she said.
Her days are spent with family. Everyone drops by several times throughout the week and chances are they'll find the 77-year-old playing on her iPad.
She is no longer knocking on death's door and the Brown Bunch is making it all happen, putting family bonds first and coordinating life for a woman that spent hers watching out for them.
If you're taking care of a loved one, AARP has resources for caregivers right here in Central Georgia. They provide information and referrals for a variety of programs serving older adults and caregivers. Just call 478-751-6160.
You can also contact Georgia's Area on Aging. They have a list of resources that are also available to caregivers. Their number is 1-866-552-4464.
And one more to add to this list, just log onto eldercaredirectory.org.