Greenfield Resident Carissa Denny Named 2011 Caregiver of the Year

POSTED: April 2, 2011

CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions presented the first annual Caregiver of the Year Award to Carissa Denny, Greenfield, as part of its annual Signature Breakfast this morning. Carissa was nominated by her mother, Cynthia Flick, for her courage, sacrifice, strength and creativity in overcoming the sometimes-overwhelming stresses and obstacles associated with providing care for her son, Wyatt.

“It is a true honor to have been chosen for this award,” Carissa said. “It has been a rough road but worth every minute to bring my child to where he is today. Wyatt has been a blessing and an inspiration.”

Wyatt, the youngest of Carissa’s three children, was born with several disabilities and suffers from Moebius Syndrome, hip displacement and club feet.  He spent the first eight months of his life in a neonatal intensive care unit and then another facility before coming home to his family in March 2004. While he is only 6 years old today, he already has undergone several surgeries and currently lives on a ventilator, tracheotomy tube and feeding tube.

In her nomination, Ms. Flick described the care her daughter provides for Wyatt: “[Our daughter’s] husband is a truck driver and is gone on the road a lot due to his work.  Carissa works three 12-hour shifts in the lab at Hancock Regional Hospital and is taking classes three days a week to be an LPN. A nursing agency provides some care for Wyatt to help relieve some burden off our daughter. When no nurse is provided, our daughter is left with less sleep to attend to her son who needs 24/7 care. In December 2010, Carissa had to have a defibrillator put in due to heart problems. As you can see, the stressful life she lives day by day is taking a toll on her health. She is a very determined mother and gets things done.”

Carissa is one of an estimated 65.7 million people in the United States who currently care for an elderly or disabled family member. As the population continues to age, caregiving issues like the ones she faces are expected to be even more prominent.

CICOA’s caregiver support service, CareAware, helps family caregivers manage day-to-day care by providing information, referrals, and respite. CICOA assists with eligibility assessment and application for state funding for a variety of in-home services and hosts caregiving classes and a resource library that is available to the public.

“CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions is focused on how to assist caregivers now to prevent health and stress issues in their future,” said Orion Bell, president and CEO. “The crucial services that CICOA provides – in-home care, home-delivered meals, transportation and caregiver respite – make it possible for people and their caregivers to live a life of dignity and independence.”

CICOA currently offers respite care and supplemental services to 1,500 caregivers. In addition, CICOA’s Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) handles more than 44,000 calls per year from people seeking assistance with aging and disabilities issues.


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