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20 years of changing the way we give senior care

20 years of changing the way we give senior care

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20 years of changing the way we give senior care

DAVID GEST

In-home care has changed lives in the Brazos Valley. In my almost 30 years of being a proud resident of Aggieland, I’ve discovered that the people we serve are the kind of people you’d want to know.

In fact, you probably do know many of them.

In December 2001, I made the decision to introduce in-home care to the Brazos Valley. I had no idea at that time how rewarding and how gratifying that decision would be. I attended training in Omaha before returning to Bryan-College Station to get busy “taking care of people.”

I didn’t realize at the time that this would be the defining moment of my business career.

I quickly hired and trained 10 caregivers, as instructed — but we had no clients. All 10 caregivers I hired quit for lack of work while I was running around trying to educate the health care community about this new service concept.

I distinctly remember the call I received a couple of months after opening the doors, asking if we could take care of an elderly woman who had fallen and broken her arm.

We began a fairly minimal schedule of care for our new client, but we finally actually were providing care. The journey had begun.

A couple of weeks later we got our first client who required 24/7 care and we were off and running. Since then, we have had the privilege of serving hundreds and hundreds of the finest people in the world — the seniors of the Brazos Valley.

For a long time, we thought that we did what our brochures listed. We provided companionship, light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders and incidental transportation. We washed laundry, put fresh linens on beds, cleaned bathrooms and kitchens, and much more.

It took a few years before I came to the realization that what we really were doing was allowing people to live on their own terms. We helped them live where they wanted to live and how they wanted to live.

We provided comfort, security, friendship, love — and more forms of assistance than we’d imagined. We learned about Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and we learned how to train our caregivers to know more about these debilitating diseases.

We learned about nutrition, hygiene, body mechanics, isolation, depression and safety in the home.

I learned that one unalienable right that’s often overlooked is the right to live out our lives in a respectable and individualized way of our own choosing.

We give daughters the chance to be just that — daughters — and not caregivers. We give families the chance to hold hands with their loved ones when visiting without concerns over who was going to handle the kitchen duties.

We were often the ones at the bedside of a senior as he or she breathed a last breath, content in the knowledge that we were placed there by a higher power.

As is often the case, there have been many long days and many short years. We’ve laughed and we’ve cried, and we’ve experienced every emotion in between.

In-home care is the answer to the question “what should we do with aging citizens of the world?” We’re living longer on resources meant to last for a shorter time.

We can’t build facilities fast enough to house our aging population — making it all the more compelling that we find ways to care for people in the environment they call home.

When I came to Bryan-College Station, I was a middle-aged man experiencing a career change. Twenty years later, we provide care for people who are sometimes younger than me.

This experience has been an immense blessing to our family and, hopefully, to yours. If we haven’t worked together, I hope we will soon.

After all, to us, it’s personal.

David Gest has been a resident of the Brazos Valley since moving from his native Louisiana in 1992. He purchased the Home Instead franchise for Bryan-College Station in 2001.

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