Karen Muscato - Family Caregiver

For Frank Muscato, family has always come first. Now, thanks to his daughter Karen, it still does. In 2001 Mr. Muscato was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Just three months later, his beloved wife Mary passed away. In the days, months and years since, Karen, her brother Joe and her sister Jane, have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure their father could stay in the home where he raised them. "It was a promise I made to my mother that I would look after my father, make sure he ate, and never put our parents into a home," says Karen. "And all three of us said that."

Karen lived right next door, and saw to it that her father followed the routines that he loved: working in the garden, shoveling snow, cooking with the family. His house was outfitted with alarms so she would be alerted if he walked away. To-do lists were posted every morning. Neighbors kept a close watch too, as did visiting nurses, long time friends, and the local police.

Four months ago, Mr. Muscato fell ill. His family was informed he had entered the end stage of Alzheimer's. Karen accepted the news with dignity, and when it came time for the hospital to release him, she brought him home with her. The routines of daily living are even simpler now. But Mr. Muscato is never alone. His devoted family makes sure of it. Her secret to compassionate caregiving?

"Just a lot of love and care," says Karen. "Be there for them, hold their hand."

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