EDMOND, Okla., Nov. 20, 2023 — The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization devoted to a world of healthier lives for all, honors caregivers of heart disease and stroke patients annually during National Family Caregivers Month in November.
All month long, the Association recognizes family caregivers and sheds light on the inspiring journey of those like D'Lacey Hodges, wife of Edmond stroke survivor Josh Hodges.
D'Lacey has been a pillar of strength and resilience as she navigates the challenges of caring for her husband, Josh, who was impacted by a life-altering stroke on April 23 at age 41.
Josh awoke that day with a headache, then collapsed in D’Lacey’s arms in the bathroom.
“His body became too rigid to lay down on the floor, and I had to pin him in the corner with my body and as we waited for the ambulance,” recalls D’Lacey. “He was mumbling, sweating profusely and choking on his own spit.”
When she noticed the left side of his face was dropping, she knew he had suffered a stroke. Emergency personnel treated Josh on the way to the hospital, where he was deemed to be in critical condition. He had surgery to remove a blood clot and restore blood flow to his brain. He eventually had to undergo a craniotomy to remove a large portion of his skull and allow for the brain to swell outside his head.
Josh was on a ventilator in ICU for 18 days, then spent 13 days in a long-term acute care hospital, followed by 30 days of in-patient rehab. D’Lacey was with him morning and night for two months while juggling care for the couple’s three daughters, ages 12, 14 and 17. Josh went home on June 22, and is now in outpatient rehab several times a week.
D'Lacey knows well the realities of being a family caregiver. She said caring for Josh and the girls has been an adjustment. She’s had to learn how to do many of the things Josh had always done for the family, from taking care of the bills and finances to maintaining their home’s well and septic system. She balances Josh’s therapy and doctors’ appointments along with their daughters’ activities. To make it all work, D’Lacey says she’s learned to be painstakingly organized.
"Everything is very different now,” she said. “I have always relied on Josh for a lot, and now the tables have turned, and he's having to rely on me. It’s been an adjustment for us all.”
When asked how she rates herself as a caregiver, D'Lacey humbly acknowledges her growth, strength, and dedication. She recognizes the support from her family, particularly her mother, as invaluable during this challenging journey.
While National Family Caregivers Month is a time to recognize the immense contributions of caregivers like D'Lacey, it also serves as a reminder of the need for ongoing support and appreciation for these unsung heroes.
The American Heart Association has resources for family caregivers and others, such as communication tips and specific information for how to care for someone following heart surgery, a heart attack or stroke. More information is below.
- Get Moving Tips for Caregivers
- Top 10 Cooking Tips for Caregivers
- Caregivers: Be Realistic, Think Positive
- Communication Tips for Caregivers
- Resources For Caregivers
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries
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