Manuel’s story: caregiving is about good relationships

Surrounded by his artwork and mementos of the many lives he’s touched, Manuel loves his home in Somerville. On this day he’s at the kitchen table, telling the story of how an art student at his last job painted a large portrait of him, which hangs on a nearby wall.

“She was very talented,” he said. “I worked with so many good people.”

Caregiving is an inter-generational effort for Lisa (right), Manuel (second from left) and Gloria (center). The family enjoys monthly support and assistance from Allison (left) and Donna (second from right), of the Adult Family Care program. AFC PHOTO

Manuel, 83, puts a high value on positive relationships. His daughter Lisa has a similar outlook, explaining how their extended family lives together and she provides assistance for her parents.

“I love my mom and dad,” she said. “I can’t imagine them not living with us as a family unit.”

Lisa is a caregiver through the Adult Family Care (AFC) program, which provides support and assistance for family caregivers. The program provides monthly training and support from a nurse and social worker, and Lisa said they’ve been a great resource.

“They always come with such great ideas and suggestions,” she said. “They are so dedicated and knowledgeable.”

Lisa provides daily assistance for Manuel and her mother Gloria, with her daughter Erika helping too. AFC Social Worker Allison Alaimo credited Lisa for going above and beyond as a family caregiver.

“This home is full of love and music and cooking and dancing,” said Alaimo. “This house is so full of life, and it all starts with her.”

The family connected with AFC through Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) in 2017. Manuel was receiving Home Care services through SCES and his family looked into AFC on the advice of their primary care physician.

Originally from Colombia, Manuel has fond memories of the people he met while in the army there. He has similar recollections about his days as a hospital councilor and working at an art museum. In talking with him, it was clear that Alaimo and his AFC nurse, Donna Lopes, are also high on that list of happy fellowships.

“They are the most beautiful people I’ve ever met,” he said. “They make me feel so happy.”

Adult Family Care is a non-profit program of Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services that supports in-home caregivers across the Greater Boston, North Shore, and Merrimack Valley areas. For more information, visit or call 617-628-2601.