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Home and Helping for the Holidays

Twice a year, Bart Cooke packs for vacation time in Alabama, during which he and his wife Beth visit family. But, unlike most vacation packing lists, Bart’s includes tools.

See Also: Your Resource For Caregiving

Nationwide, more than one-in-four people are providing some level of care for a loved one, and Bart is among those, although he doesn’t identify himself as a caregiver. Yet, with every trip to Alabama, he is presented with a new “honey-do” list for his mother-in-law’s home or vehicles.

“I like having something to keep me busy,” he says, brushing aside the idea he is doing anything special.

Cooke’s father-in-law passed away several years ago, and since then, the Houston resident does what he can to help around the house when visiting.

In recent visits, he said he has helped with heating and air conditioning issues, built shelves and moved furniture, among other tasks. He also has come to see some regular maintenance as “his” during his twice-yearly visit.

“It’s a habit now. The air conditioner filters and the smoke detector batteries are my jobs when I’m there,” he said.

Beth said Bart’s help has helped fill a huge void.

“My dad took care of all of the household maintenance throughout their 50-plus-year-marriage, and my mom had never written a check when he passed away. She has done a great job being on her own for the first time, but at 75 years old, it’s overwhelming.

“Bart uses a number of his vacation days every year doing things around my mom’s house. There are times when I don’t know what we would have done without him,” Beth said.

Are you visiting family members for the holidays and looking for ways to help? Here are a few ideas.
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