By Colleen Sparks
While most people are sleeping, 90-year-old Marilyn Hall is at work, caring for a homebound, elderly man through her work with Home Instead in North Central.
Hall’s strong caregiving skills and dedication to helping others earned her the title of finalist for Home Instead network’s North American “Mary Steibel CAREGiver of the Year” Award. She was recognized, along with seven other regional CAREGivers of the Year, at the virtual Home Instead annual International Convention recently. These regional award winners were selected out of more than 65,000 Home Instead CAREGivers in the United States and Canada.
Hall works primarily from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at a client’s home, cooking, doing laundry, cleaning and making conversation with him. A former security guard, she arrives when the client is in bed and then awakens him to take medication and eat a snack at midnight. When he gets up for the day at 6 a.m. Hall makes him breakfast, then after her shift is over she goes home to sleep.
Her client is one of many aging adults who Home Instead helps. The franchise network’s services allow mature adults to live safely and comfortable in their own homes for as long as possible.
The oldest of seven siblings growing up in South Dakota, Hall has been caring for people all her life. She would help her brothers and sisters get dressed and bathed, as well as braid her sisters’ hair, among other support. Hall also cared for her parents before they died, ensuring they could live in their own home.
She always wanted to be a nurse but got married at age 18 and had five children so she could not pursue that goal. Then 16 years ago Hall was driving down 16th Street when she saw a sign for Home Instead. She went into the office, talked to employees there and never looked back.
“I was so impressed when I went into that office of how nice everybody was, like they’d known me for a long time,” Hall said. “I said, ‘Gosh, can I go to work?’ They hired me and I was elated. I’ve never been disappointed.”
A friendly woman, she enjoys talking to clients and hearing their stories. Hall recalled bringing a puzzle with a horse picture to a woman who loved horses and framing it after she put it together. She helped her current client’s wife, as well, before she died, and shares memories of the woman with her client to make him smile.
Hall said working overnight is not hard and she had worked nights when raising her children, mostly in restaurants. Later in life she worked in the real estate industry.
Showing respect and allowing clients to maintain their dignity is important to Hall.
“I always think of my mom and dad,” she said. “When anybody that’s worked hard all their life and raised their family and done whatever, they deserve the respect.”
Hall, who has eight grandchildren, five great grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild, enjoys playing billiards and was captain of a pool team prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also liked going out dancing before the pandemic hit.
Hall was not expecting an award for her work.
“I’m shocked about it,” she said. “I’m so grateful but I just never thought about anything like that.”
Kristina Le, experience manager at Home Instead in the North Central location, which is based at 1430 E. Missouri Ave., recalled meeting Hall for the first time.
“She sat down and introduced herself,” Le said. “She just truly cares about her clients. She thinks ahead. It’s extremely challenging (work). Marilyn has a very special place in my heart. I adore her. She’s a unique soul.”