My name is Aishling Dalton-Kelly. I’m excited, and very honored, to have this opportunity to introduce myself to you. My Irish heritage means I was blessed with the gift of the gab. My father would say “Aishling you are so honest you will get yourself in to trouble; you need to stop talking”.

I’m going to consider that statement a compliment and do what my mother always used to say “when someone pays you a compliment say “Thank you” and wear it proudly!

I mention this is because I’ll need that gift to write my new regular Column on “Living a Full Life”. I want to use this column to give you the resources and education to help you navigate the road of supporting aging and sick parents.

A road I, and my family travelled for many years.  A road with many unexpected twists and turns, with so many ups and downs that is seemed never ending, A road that led me personally through many a dark forest. But it was also a road ending with a beautiful rainbow and a new dawn.

I’m the owner of Aishling Companion Home Care. A non-medical, full-service home care agency licensed by the state of Illinois. My agency offers high quality and caring services to clients throughout Cook, DuPage, Will and parts of Kankakee Counties.

What is a non-medical home care agency?

It’s a valid question and one I myself would not have been able to answer 7 years ago. But I certainly can now. Non-medical agencies are simply the troops on the ground every day, assisting seniors with the necessary activities of daily living.

What sort of activities?

Just think of the things you do on a daily basis to get up and get out of the door. Get out of bed, walk to the bathroom, eliminate, wash your face, teeth, undress, shower, dry, dress, eat, drink, navigate to work and get there safely. That’s 11 activities right there, and that doesn’t include things like taking medications, cooking breakfast, house chores – the list goes on.

Imagine, if for some reason you couldn’t do many of those things. Imagine if you could not do any of them? How would you get through your day? Every human being has to function daily and if they can’t, for one reason or another, that’s when you would call in the licensed home care professionals. That is what I train my staff to do with care, compassion and a smile.

My business was never planned. I was led to it by an unknown, a higher force so to speak. It was a culmination of events that led me to give serious consideration to opening my own home care agency. Real life scenarios, personal situations which I knew could be improved if the right pieces were put in place.

I wanted to make a difference. It’s amazing how sometimes in life you experience something so powerful you never forget it. There is no going back once you experience this. Life is simply never the same.

We, my family and I, watched our mother disappear right in front of us, day by long day over the course of 7 years. She looked the same as she always did at first. But we knew something was wrong and so too did she we just didn’t know what “we didn’t know”. Our beautiful mother had dementia.  At the same time my father was taken under the loving caring hands of hospice.

Two very different situations which presented the family with multiple challenges, decisions and emotions that could never be predicted. They were situations that we were never prepared to deal with. We didn’t know where to turn to get education, or resources to help. Even when we might have opportunities we didn’t know the right questions to ask, or the right people to surround ourselves with. We felt alone and adrift in a world turned upside down.   

Much of the stress we went through as a family could have be prevented – if we knew then what we know now.
Many of you reading this article will be able to relate already. And, as we face an aging population, there’s a good chance that more and more people will need to know how to deal with elderly parents with physical illness, injury or some form of cognitive decline.

I’m here to tell you that not only is there hope, there is a solution to every problem. There are some truly wonderful resources available to meet your every need. We live in a wonderful country that has many, many options available to you. You just have to know how to tap in to the connections that can get you what you need.

I’m all about community and helping one another. We’re all in this together some are ahead, and some are behind. Ultimately, we all must take that journey with our parent’s or loved ones.

It’s ironic that my parents christened me Aishling. A true Gaelic name which translates to “a dream”. I am truly living the dream of owning my own home care agency serving families such as mine – and it all began with our own experience of caring for my mom and dad.