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Posted: September 14, 2005

Professional Caregiving

A Standing Ovation for Caregivers in Katrina's Wake

As a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, I am subscribed to what’s called a "listserv." This is a professional forum where members talk about different issues and try to help each other find answers for ourselves and for our clients. The "listserv" messages come across my email every day.

As it pertains to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I want to tell you that there are so many stories of courage and heroism that you will probably never see in the media. There are so many professional caregivers who have taken the time to go to the devastated areas and lend a helping hand, leaving their businesses and their families for at least a couple of weeks at a time.

I have seen stories about nursing homes, independent retirement communities, and assisted living facilities who are opening their doors free of charge to any elderly who need temporary housing. We have families adopting elderly residents and inviting them into their homes to be cared for until they are able to return home.

Nurses and social workers are driving and flying to the effected areas to offer their help in an organized fashion through the American Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies.

We have professional geriatric care managers who live and work in the effected areas. They are now displaced as well, but they continue to try and find their clients and make sure that everyone has gotten out safely.

I just wanted to use the forum of this column to tip my hat to all of the professional caregivers who have risen to the occasion by helping in some small way, or large way, during these most trying times.

While there are countless individual stories, I have to share this one with you. I was sitting in an airport one day waiting for a flight to Omaha, and suddenly I could hear clapping and cheering coming from down the concourse several yards away. My first thought was that a group of teenagers had gotten off a plane and were making a lot of noise, but then the clapping got louder. People started to stand up and cheer and clap even more. It. turns out it was a group of soldiers who had just returned from Iraq. Every person in that concourse was on their feet clapping and cheering for those brave men.

If I could arrange it, I would have an entire concourse of people clapping and cheering for caregivers who work so hard every day, and in the face of tragedy on the scale of Katrina have gone that extra mile – no, make that many extra miles.

Those of you who give of yourselves so tirelessly on a "regular" day, give even more in times like these. You are brave soldiers, -- and true heroes. That elderly person you helped could have been my grandmother or grandfather who needed your help, and you were there to take them in and comfort them, even in the face of possibly losing your own home. Thank you for all you do.

If you have positive stories of bravery and heroism that you would like to share, send them to me. It doesn’t matter how big or how small the effort, what matters is that we recognize caregivers for their tireless efforts every single day. I’ll share them in a future column.


Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN, PGCM, is a registered nurse, professional geriatric care manager, author, and professional speaker. She is a leading expert on long-term care planning and crisis management. Valerie is president of Senior Care Solutions, a private geriatric care management practice in the St. Louis area. Her books include Aging Answers: Secrets to Successful Long-Term Care Planning, Caregiving, and Crisis Management and her website is She can be reached at .

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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