On one occasion, I was testing a participant in the Memory and Aging Project who had several physical impairments. Her caretaker was absent on the day of our appointment. While I didn’t meet the caretaker personally, her presence was felt all throughout the apartment: there was a framed photo of the two at the Chicago Pride Parade, the participant used an Amazon Alexa that the caretaker had given her for Christmas, and the caretaker’s warm and giving personality was a recurring topic of conversation.

It wasn’t until later on in the appointment that I learned the reason behind the caretaker’s absence: her sick family member had been hospitalized the night before. It became clear that this caretaker had been acting as a loving, surrogate family member to the participant, in addition to taking care of others outside of her work.

So many caretakers, like this one, go the extra mile. They don’t simply “wipe their feet at the door.” They carry their work with them, touching the lives of those in need, and forming meaningful bonds along the way—all this on top of the challenges they may be facing in their personal lives.

To this caretaker, and all the others, we owe an endless amount of gratitude.

Zach Benak – Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, EPI Research Assistant