It’s not a glamorous, high profile, or the highest paying job, but for 26-year-old Keith Mayhew, no other profession compares to being a certified home health aide.
Mayhew has served that role for the last four years at the Eddy Visiting Nurse Association, taking great care of many homebound clients, and especially the difficult cases where clients are afflicted with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, and robs victims of their ability to initiate or control their muscle movements.
Mayhew’s experience in caring for these special needs clients earned him an invitation as the guest speaker at a recent event held by the Neuro Stem Cell Institute, a regenerative research foundation in Rensselaer County.
Mayhew spoke in front of a crowded audience about the difficult, but rewarding work that he does, and how he feels being able to help patients, and their caregivers. He recounted a 95-year-old man who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, and whose only caregiver was his wife, who herself was legally blind.
“Nothing about being a home health aide is easy,” said Mayhew, “but what gets me through each day is the love I have for my patients, and helping them in any way I can. I truly love working with people, and in some small way, making a difference for those who just need a little extra care.”
Mayhew says his family had wanted him to become a nurse so he could make more money, but he said he loves what he does, especially the time that he gets to spend with his patients. In fact, Mayhew is so passionate about his profession that he even talked his wife, Ashley, into becoming a home health aide two years ago. “She loves it now, just like I do,” he said.
“Knowing that someone is counting on me each morning to get there makes it a lot easier to get up and go to work,” Mayhew said. “And while I love what I do, having seen what I’ve seen, I’d be thrilled for a cure to be developed to put an end to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.”
Home health aides help clients with many tasks, such as food preparation; housekeeping; laundry; shopping; and personal care, such as bathing, dressing and grooming. For more information on becoming a certified home health aide, please call (518) 270-1499.