A Life of Caring - It's Gonna Be OK Featured Stories

Katie Fogarty: The Impact of a Caregiver

“She’s just an angel. There are just no words really to describe what she gave to my family.”

“What Simone gave us, and what Bickford gave us, was the peace of mind of knowing that when we leave him they are going to treat him with dignity and respect, the way he should be treated when we are not there. Because he couldn’t tell us what was going on. That’s what it meant, peace of mind.” 

Katie Fogarty and Simone Pena became colleagues in caregiving at Bickford of Oswego, Illinois, more than seven years ago, when Katie joined the branch as a concierge. But that’s not how the two met: Their friendship goes back more than a decade, to a time when Katie and her family found themselves on the receiving end of Bickford’s care. 

At just 68 years old, Katie’s father, Joe, developed early dementia after a series of mini strokes, or TIAs. Her mother could no longer care for him safely at home, and so the family decided he should move into memory care at Bickford of Oswego. Katie, now community relations director at Bickford of Aurora, Illinois, remembers the night she brought her dad to live at Bickford with vivid clarity. Joe was lucid enough to realize he was somewhere new, but couldn’t understand why. He manically roamed the halls, looking for his car, his wife, his home. 

Simone, at the time a relatively new certified nursing assistant, leapt into action. She took off her shoes so she could follow along and reassure Joe, who was still young and healthy enough that keeping pace with him wasn’t easy.