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Caregiver Finds Joy in Helping Others During the Pandemic

Iona Nevesky looks after her 97-year-old client — and friend

A woman smiles while carrying bags out of her front door
Iona Nevesky, 75, has been a professional care-giver for children and adults for 50 years.
MATHEW SCOTT

As the COVID-19 crisis spread, my family and friends begged me to stop working. They worried about my safety and wanted me to stay home. But I wouldn't consider it — not for a minute. For the past six years, every weekday morning, I've driven 3 miles from the house I share with my daughter, her husband and my grandson in El Segundo, California, to help my client Judith. She's 97 and, during the pandemic, I'm the only one she sees. Why would I abandon her now? It's out of the question. No one should be forgotten.

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"I’m here for her no matter what."

— Iona Nevesky

But there have been some changes. Before the stay-in-place order, I would take Judith to the supermarket, get her hair done or just take a drive to get out of the house. And, of course, I always accompanied her to doctors’ appointments. Now we stay close to home, but she still counts on me to help prepare meals and organize her medications. And we enjoy our conversations. I learn a lot, especially about American political history, since it's a subject that has always captivated her.

Just as importantly, we rely on each other for emotional support. When I first started working with Judith, her husband of many years had just passed away, and she wept a lot. Since I had lost my husband six years earlier, I recognized that she was deep into her grief. As time passed, we were able to heal together. I believe our individual grief lessened because of our shared experience.

That said, I also understand my loved ones’ concerns for my well-being. Even though I don't have any underlying health conditions, I'm in the high-risk category for the virus because of my age. But being a caregiver is the most important thing I do with my life, and I can't imagine giving it up. Ever since I was a young girl, I knew that the key to my happiness was taking care of other people. By the time I was 25 years old, I had made the decision to become a professional caregiver, and I've been doing it ever since.

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Especially now, when so many people are alone, I consider myself blessed. Not only do I enjoy the endless pleasures of living with my daughter and my 9-year-old grandson, but I'm also able to help another human being. From the way I see it, there's nothing better in the world to do. After all, we're in this together. We're here to take care of each other.

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AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.