Samantha Chhrech has been an alternative caregiver through our Adult Family Care (AFC) program for 8 years. She assists with care for her father in the Lowell area (her nephew Vantha is the primary caregiver; Samantha assists him), but she views herself as a daughter first. “I’m his daughter; it’s my responsibility to take care of him when he’s sick or getting older,” she says. “Through the AFC Program, I get to spend more time with my dad, building that relationship as an adult with him.”
We recently asked Samantha about her role as an alternative caregiver/daughter, how it’s influenced her relationship with her father, and what it’s taught her.
In the morning, I check in on him, get him ready, have breakfast with him, and we socialize. I have my nephew and older sister helping with the care too. My older sister comes in the afternoon to care for him, handling meal prep, cooking, and cleaning while I work.
In the evening, it’s my turn to step in to help him again. We talk more; he likes to chant in the evening—he’s a Buddhist—I listen to him chant, and we have conversations. A lot of our conversations revolve around Buddhist teachings. On nice days, we go out for walks, and I take him out to places. With the cold weather, he doesn’t want to do anything, though.
I've learned to be patient, humble, and to keep an open mind because everyone is just so different.
I would let them know that it’s going to be challenging, but once you get the routine, there’s always support no matter what. Once you have that flow going, it's not easy, but it's rewarding. At the end of the day, you're going to feel accomplished that you did something good, whether you’re caring for your family or someone else.
Others who are caregivers feel the same way: we are the voice for our loved ones, our members, who can’t speak for themselves.
Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.