Hi, my name is Amber. I live in Santa Clarita, CA. I have been a caregiver on and off since 1997, which is 19 years.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because in 1997 my foster mother became very ill, and even though I lived in Chicago, I came back from Chicago, and I went to live with her and her husband, which is my foster father. I took care of her until she was no longer able to live at home. Once she was moved to a facility, I continued to visit her everyday and take care of her everyday as her caregiver until she passed in 1999.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be, not to take anything that a patient says to you personally. Unless it's instruction concerning what they need. I would not take it personally because a lot of times people are going through Dementia or Alzheimer's or they have a disability. They're older and their bodies are - in their mind - turning against them and a lot of the things that they used to be able to do, they can no longer do, which creates frustration. So my biggest advice is to always be observant of their needs and try to find the needs that they're not requesting and do those as well because they appreciate you more when they don't have to constantly give instructions.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
The client that I will never forget was Miss Patricia. This lady, she was a diva. She was very funny and very intelligent. She had a PhD, but she also had Alzheimer's and dementia and she was dying. When I became her caregiver, she had just returned from a trip where her daughter had taken her over to Europe. She was hilarious and was so funny because everyday she wanted Taco Bell for her lunch. But when it came to her dinner, she would not eat the facility food so her daughter had it delivered everyday because she wanted a five-course meal, like a five-star meal. She would sit and eat all her food and she would talk about how she would never eat anything that was not healthy and good for her but at the same token, everyday I would drive to Taco Bell to get her lunch. So I found that hilarious. There were also times, where, because of the Alzheimer's and dementia, she would slip in and out of reality and when she would come to herself, she would cry, so she would talk to me and because she was very, very well aware of what was happening to her and she knew that she was going to die. So I would talk to her and brush her hair and try to comfort her and because of that, we became very close. She was only my client for about two-and-a-half months before she passed. But she was a very, very intelligent person and I will never forget her.