From Mother-in-Laws to Best Friends: Caregiver Lester Dudek and His Two "Moms"
It’s an unusual story and an inspiring one. Lester Dudek cares for two elderly women full-time—his own mother, Marta, and his mother-in-law, Emily. Both women have Alzheimer’s disease and need help with everything from bill paying to personal care.
Emily was the first to begin having difficulty living alone, and her family feared for her safety. “We had a family meeting, but nobody was able to care for Emily, so we (Lester and his wife, Irene) moved into her house and I built an in-law apartment,” Lester explained.”
Marta soon joined Emily, who was under Lester’s care and in the Caregiver Homes program. She had been having seizures, Lester says, “but she never told us about them. She was afraid that we would put her in a nursing home.”
Marta’s fears were nearly realized when she collapsed, from a seizure, at the dinner table one Christmas Eve. After a week of hospitalization, her physician told her that she had two choices: she would have to live with family or go to a nursing home.”
As primary caregiver for two women in their eighties, Lester’s days are busy. He struggles with understanding and accepting the behavioral effects of Alzheimer’s on both women, but his Caregiver Homes’ case management team—Social Worker, Aracelis Guzman-Serrano and Registered Nurse, Cathy Marchese–help educate him about what to expect.
Caregiver Homes has also helped Marta and Emily to receive other services, including Meals on Wheels. With Lester and his wife, Irene’s commitment and belief that supporting your family is important, all are working together to keep the women comfortably at home. Irene supports Lester in his caregiving for both moms. He says, “My wife, I would call her an angel, what she does for my mother.”
Marta and Emily now spend contented days together. As mothers-in-law, they had known each other for over forty years. But, Lester says, “They’re best friends now. They hug each other, kiss each other, they’re so happy."