Vilma Cespedes has a front-row seat to a romance that has lasted more than three-quarters of a century.
“Whenever I come in the door and look at my client and her husband, I smile and think to myself, ‘This is about a love story,’ ” said Vilma, an award-winning CAREGiver at Home Instead Senior Care® of Livonia and Westland. “I tell my sister about them and how much I admire them. They’ve been married for
75 years; yes, 75 years!
“It is beautiful to watch them as a couple. It is awesome. He tells her how much he loves her and how beautiful she is. I fix her hair, and he says she looks so pretty. I don’t know what they would do without each other. Each one would not know how to handle it. When he goes out for groceries, she is worried and is always looking for him. I have to reassure her.”
Vilma wants to keep this love story going in their Dearborn house as long as possible. The couple has come to depend on her assistance to do that because the 95-year-old wife has dementia, and her 96-year-old husband understandably has struggled with her care and upkeep of their home. Vilma arrived as the couple’s first CAREGiver a little more than two months ago.
“He was trying to take care of her by himself. He lets her do what she wants, and that doesn’t work any longer because dementia is such a game changer,” Vilma said. “He loves her, but he is puzzled. He says, ‘I don’t know why she acts like she does sometimes.’ I explain that it is dementia, nothing that she can control. With some help, they are just fine in their home.
“The husband is sharp. He talks about participating in the stock market and pays their bills. He still drives, and he likes to pick up their groceries and goes to Wayne during daylight hours to visit their 68-year-old son. I feel like family. He says, “Vilma is like a daughter to me.’ He jokes around a lot. He will say, ‘Sit down and talk. You are cleaning too much.’ I love and admire both of them.”
Vilma has a winning routine with her clients. “I keep their house organized and know where everything is. So first thing every morning,” she said, “I get it all ship-shape. I make it fun by saying to him, ‘OK, Boss, tell me what to do.’ Then I ask him how he wants it done. I want them to feel as if they are keeping their independence.
“I love helping them. I have gotten so close to them. I don’t want anything to happen, and I just want them to be comfortable. When I leave for the day, I feel I have accomplished something. I walk away feeling good. This job is not about money for me. It is about what it feels like inside. It makes my day to make them feel happy,” she added.
“For lunch, the husband said I prepare a meal so well that I make him ‘fat.’ He is a sweet man. He is comical. Before my days off, his wife will say: ‘We don’t need anybody else here, just you.’ I tell her, ‘Honey, I need a day off, but I will be back.’ ”
Vilma had taken on other challenges and passed every test with flying colors. Less than a half-year after joining owner Glenna Yaroch’s franchise on May 1 following an online job search, Vilma was selected as CAREGiver of the Month. When she was honored, Vilma humbly said: “CAREGiver of the Month? My goodness, why? I just go about caring for people. It is what I do, and I am happy doing it and working for Home Instead. There is not one person I worked for that I didn’t like.”
Human Resources Manager Patricia Graff said: “Vilma was selected as CAREGiver of the Month because in her five months with Home Instead Senior Care, she has earned the trust and faith of each of her clients and their families. She is in high demand! Vilma has worked with several of our clients who were on hospice, and the families could not say enough about her compassion and her skills.”
Recalling those experiences, Vilma quietly said: I love taking care of people, but sometimes you feel sad. When my clients pass away, it messes me up for a while. I was with a dying client in July, holding her hand one day, and on the next day, when I wasn’t with her, she died. My next lady had dementia and was in hospice, and I was with her six to seven hours a day, but she also passed away. They are in a better place, but it still hurts for the family and CAREGivers like me.”
The warm moments, though, always overtake the sad memories. This is what means most to Vilma: “When I am leaving for the day, my clients usually say, ‘When are you coming back? Can you come back tomorrow?’ It melts my heart, but it does make me feel good to know that I am needed and wanted. I make their lives happier.”
Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call
(734) 525-5300 or email
LeeAnn Loveland. Home Instead also accepts
online CAREGiver applications.
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Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.