As part of Caregiver Awareness Month, Lingraphica will feature a caregiver’s story each week throughout November. Help us celebrate these stories and people by providing feedback to these posts.
My name is Veronika, but everyone calls me Vera. I have been a caregiver for nearly 10 years, and for the last four years have been caregiver to Nancy Mamis-King, a member of the Lingraphica Aphasia Users Group. I met her at the Adler Aphasia Center in Maywood, New Jersey, while actively caring for another person with aphasia.
I am from Vilinius, Lithuania, and have been in America for 10 years. My daughter still lives in Lithuania with my grandchildren and my son lives in England. Unfortunately, I don't get to see them very often, but my daughter came to America earlier this year and my son will come to visit me next year.
When I first came to America I couldn't speak or read English. I now speak four languages — English (which I am still learning), Lithuanian, Polish, and Russian. I came to America to start as a caregiver. My first job was for a woman who died shortly after I started working for her. Then I worked for a gentleman who was a Holocaust survivor. At the time, I worked 24/7 and it became too much for me. Shortly after he died, I was offered a job in New York for five days a week and I took it. Soon, I missed my friends here in New Jersey and wanted to leave that job. That was when I met Nancy.
I started working for Nancy in 2008, six years after she had her stroke. Nancy has a very supportive husband and a loving family who cares for her at night, while I take care of her from 8 am – 6 pm during weekdays. After her stroke, there were things that Nancy needed a little help doing like showering and getting dressed. I am her helper, her driver, and her companion.
We are on the go all the time whether it’s therapy, the Adler Aphasia Center, a Lingraphica Aphasia Users Group meeting, or the gym at Kessler Rehab in West Orange, New Jersey, we are always doing something.
One of the things I love most about caregiving is the bond that forms among me and the person I care for and his or her extended family. Nancy's family has been wonderful to me. I do extra things for them when they need it and they help me when needed. I love Nancy and her family.