PENDLETON — She’s the happiest she’s ever been in her life, she said, and that’s saying quite a bit for Joyce Dietrick, who has lived a long life.
Born in 1922, Joyce, 95, of Pendleton credits her longevity and joy for life in part to the fact she’s living her golden years at home with the youngest of her six children, daughter Marti Detrick, 56, who is also her primary caregiver.
“I don’t have to worry about anything,” Joyce said. “If I need something, I just have to say it, and I get it.”
November is National Family Caregivers Month. Caregiver Homes of Indiana, an agency Joyce and Marti use, is paying tribute to families who care for their loved ones on a daily basis by recognizing in-home care as a valuable alternative to nursing homes or assisted living.
Joyce credits her family with helping her not only live to a ripe old age but also to thrive in a happy, loving environment.
The family celebrates their mother’s long life every birthday, Sept. 20, when she gets a tattoo with her age on a vine, growing up her ankle onto her calf.
When Marti first saw the photos of her mother’s tattoo, which another sibling helped her obtain during a visit to Michigan, Marti thought it was a joke. And they laugh now and are so thankful each year when the time comes for Joyce to add to the tattoo.
Joyce said she never ever had any inklings about getting a tattoo until the very day she got her first one.
“I just thought, ‘I’m gonna get a tattoo and put my age there.’ So every year I do,” Joyce said.
The family is hoping to add to the artwork for years to come, they said.
Marti is able to care for her mother — who moved in with her five years ago, after Marti’s father, Russell Dietrick, died in 2011 at age 93 — with the help of the senior assistance program.
“It’s been absolutely great for both of us,” Marti said. “She’s pretty independent, really.”
While Joyce had a heart attack a few years ago, she recovered well and right now is in great shape.
Marti said she cooks, cleans and drives her mother wherever she needs to go, but for the most part, Joyce gets around the house on her own.
Caregiver Homes of Indiana sends a caseworker and nurse into their home a couple times a month to check on Joyce’s living situation and make sure all of her needs are being met.
“They’ve almost become like family to us,” Marti said. “The resources they supply if I need them or have a question are just great.”
According to Caregiver Homes of Indiana, it has worked closely with family caregivers since 2013, to provide families with support and financial assistance so their loved one can remain at home and within the community as long as possible.
The program has delivered positive results, with both improved outcomes for patients and cost savings of more than $400 million for state Medicaid programs nationwide, program officials said in a press release.
For Joyce and her family, the proof is in their lives; they are able share all the time they want to with each other, and Joyce is happy to spend her twilight years at home.