March 18, 2015

caregiverMartin Pistorius’ story seems too incredible – and terrifying – to be true. After developing cryptococcal meningitis at age 12, he proceeded to spend the next 12 years locked inside a body that wouldn’t allow him to communicate or move in any way, all while being fully cognizant of his surroundings. His parents painstakingly cared for him in conjunction with transporting him each day for 8 hours to a care center. While there, and fully aware, he was subjected to hours upon hours of mindless TV, and even worse, abuse.

His story is a stark reminder to all caregivers that regardless of the perceived mental state of a client, it’s crucial to treat each person with dignity and respect, and to be mindful of communications that take place within earshot.

Thankfully, Martin’s story included a silver lining, when one of his caregivers was perceptive enough to pick up on small movements and other subtle changes, prompting her to convince his parents and doctors to run additional tests. One of these tests, in which he was able to identify objects by pointing at them with his eyes, became his catalyst to breaking free. From this breakthrough, Martin has been able to achieve incredible progress, learning to communicate through a specially adapted keyboard, getting married, finding a job and even learning to drive.

Those who care for persons who are elderly or disabled can find encouragement and inspiration in the importance of the critical role they play in noticing and acting upon what may seem like small and unimportant changes. That compassionate and high quality care can truly prove to be life-changing.

To listen to a radio interview with Martin, his parents and his wife, and to read a transcript from the show, click here. Or click here to read a related article from McKnight’s, intended to inspire those providing long-term care.

Martin’s story of perseverance and the dedication of his caregiver who believed in him and advocated for him when no one else would are inspirations to us here at Continuum. We believe in caring for the whole person, from assisting with physical tasks to engaging the mind to enriching the spirit, and we train each and every one of our caregivers in that belief. If you are searching for compassionate care for a loved one, contact Continuum of St. Louis today. We’d be honored to care for your family.