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Full-time Family Caregiver Wins Long Overdue Vacation

2011 CaregiverStress Cruise Winner Mary Lamalie

Home Instead Senior Care network announces Caregiver Cruise winner

A family caregiver who has provided nearly constant care to an ailing husband for the past nine years is the winner of the Caregiver Cruise Giveaway from the Home Instead Senior Care® network. The six-day, five-night cruise sets sail January 21, 2012, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with about 200 professional and family caregivers as part of the Home Instead Senior Care Caregiver Cruise. The trip is being co-sponsored by the Home Instead Senior Care network and CaregiverCruises.com on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

OMAHA, Neb. – Mary Lamalie, a caregiver who provides round-the-clock care to her husband, Ken, who suffers from advanced stroke-related dementia, is the winner of the Caregiver Cruise Giveaway sponsored by the Home Instead Senior Care® network. The six-day, five-night cruise – with stops in Belize and Cozumel – sets sail January 21, 2012, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with about 200 professional and family caregivers. The trip is being co-sponsored by the Home Instead Senior Care network and CaregiverCruises.com on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

Lamalie's story was selected from among 1,100 caregiver entries nationally for the Home Instead Senior Care Caregiver Cruise, which will give her a break from the constant demands of caring for her husband, Ken, who has been in poor health for nine years.

"I haven't had a vacation for so long – years really," said Lamalie, who herself suffers from hypertension and Lupus. The Lamalies, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Aug. 19th, 2011, have no family close by to help. Their only child, Anslie, was killed in an auto accident at age 18. "I have two brothers, one in Rhode Island and one in North Carolina. It's been a few years since I've even been to a family reunion," she said.

In addition to the much-needed getaway, Lamalie will receive 40 hours of free http://www.homeinstead.com/services/Pages/Home-Care-Services.aspx [care for her husband] arranged by the Home Instead Senior Care network and the Port St. Lucie, Fla., Home Instead Senior Care franchise office during the week that she is on the cruise.

"Mary's story really illustrates the sacrifices so many families caring for loved ones make each day," said President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jeff Huber of Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network. "Family caregivers like Mary seldom have the opportunity to get away because they are devoted daily to those who depend on their support and care. We're happy to provide Mary a much-needed break."

Ken Lamalie, 74, a former high school history and television production teacher, suffered his first stroke in 2002, and his health has continued to decline since. "I cannot leave my husband, who mostly sleeps and watches TV," said Lamalie, a former teacher as well. "I provide care all day including toileting and washing clothes. In the morning I place him into the shower, then dress him and situate him in a wheelchair for the day. I get him breakfast, which is sometimes the only meal that he wants. His right side is nearly useless, so I have to cut up the food in small pieces. He is able to eat on his own; it just takes a long time."

Lamalie gets a brief break three times a week when her husband goes to Alzheimer's Community Care, a Stuart-area day care that provides activities, incontinence care, medication and meals. Mary also regularly attends the organization's family caregiver support group.

Dana Forman, intake nurse for Alzheimer's Community Care, nominated Lamalie for the caregiver cruise. Lamalie came to mind, she said, based on the caregiving burden she's taken on, the length of time she has assumed that care and her willingness to help other caregivers. "It's unusual for family caregivers to have to deal with dementia and the physical needs from strokes at the same time," she noted. "But when Mary attends the support group and it's her turn, she doesn't discuss her own situation, but offers great suggestions to help other family caregivers," Forman added.

Regardless, Lamalie said the support of others has, in fact, helped her. "It's so nice to have someone to talk with so I'm not sitting out on my porch crying at night. It's a long journey and it's hard, but there's lots of support out there when you search things out."