Hi, my name is Ashley. I live in Santa Clarita, CA and I've been a caregiver for a little over a year.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because of my two grandmothers. She died of dementia. I'd been very close with especially one of my grandmothers, who helped raise me. And it was very difficult for me to see her decline, and not remember my name or special memories that I held with her. Sadly, and foolishly, I distanced myself from her, and I missed out on finishing our relationship before she passed away. With that feeling of regret, and also gratitude for the caregivers that came into our home to help bridge the gap between me, my siblings, and our grandmothers. I wanted to pay it forward, and be there for other clients, and other family members, who are struggling with the declines of their family members, whom they loved. I find a lot of peace and joy in giving back, as I think of every client as one of my two grandmothers, whom I love and cherish.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice for a new caregiver would be to be patient, to be flexible, always wear a smile, and to not take things personally when they have a bad day. I've always had pleasant experiences with my clients and have developed very strong relationships with them. As I have left my troubles at the door, and focused my time and effort on them and their needs. Some days are more difficult than others, as they struggle with remembering things from their past, or struggle with doing tasks that they used to be able to do with ease. I look at my patients with love. I've been able to comfort them, and help them smile, and find joy in their days in the things that they can do, and the things they do remember. A caregiver is there to love, and to be their friend, to make sure that they feel validated and worthwhile.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client I will never forget is a man named Teer. He came to the United States during World War II from Norway, when the Nazi party was invading their country. He developed Alzheimer's near the end of his life, and that's when our company stepped in to take care. I helped him with his daily activities of showering, feeding, dressing, and getting to bed. He made me laugh and I had so much fun with him, even in the days that he was scared, worried, or frustrated because of his illness. I'm grateful that I was able to be there, to hold his hand through the good times and the bad. And he will always have a place in my heart. I miss Teer very much, as he has passed away since. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I had to attend his funeral, and to hear of the incredible man, whom I had only had glimpses of. I know that he was a man of great courage, who loved his country and his family, and who made friends wherever he went. I miss him so much. And I pray often that he can be with me, that his courage, his strength, can be with me, as I go through challenges. And that I could have my friend with me, always.