Hi my name is Ashley. I currently live in Fallbrook, CA. I have about five years experience as a caregiver.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because when I was a teenager I lost all my grandparents at the age of 16. They meant the world to me. I would give anything to just tell them how much I love them or do something nice for them today. I wasn't able to see them much because they all lived in a different state. My Mama passed away due to a stroke, and my Nana passed away after going into the hospital for pneumonia. I watched the nurse assistants take care of both of my Nana and my grandma for a long time until they-- up until the day that they passed away. I ended up getting a lot of dignity and respect for them. I think that we owe our elders the utmost respect because we're given so many privileges in life now. We take a lot of things for granted, the things that we can just do individually, ourselves now. And for our elders, we really owe them everything.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to new caregivers would be to be patient with all of your residents that you're going to have. You need to be able to handle any situation at any given time. You need to be able to know what you're doing, or at least seem like you know what you're doing, so you're not making them nervous and you don't make them feel like you don't know what you're doing. You should be able to redirect them with things that they like, coffee, television, pet possibly, a walk outside. Just keep in mind that you need to-- you're there to take care of them. Even though you may work where they live, or you may work in a facility. You need to understand that that is their home. Or even if you're working in their home, you need to understand, this is where they live. This is where they're comfortable. This is their home, and this is where you come to work. You need to make it as comfortable as possible, as you can for them. Make sure that you do whatever you can to put a smile on their face at the end of the day. Try to make them happy. That should be your goal for the day.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client I would never forget is Tom. He was in his own apartment with his wife. He was older. They were both an older couple. They were both, also, in wheelchairs, and I was there mostly to help Tom. He was a quadriplegic, and he was transferred to his wheelchair every day. I would come in, and I would do a daily bed bath and shave him, make sure he was really comfortable, and get him ready for the day. They would leave. They had their own bus, so she would drive through her wheelchair, though. And they would leave and go to church for every Sunday or every Wednesday. But then during the week, they would also go out just around town or to wherever they would like to go for the day. So it was really challenging, at first, because he was 200 pounds. So he was a lot larger than I am, and I was the only one transferring him, and turning him for bed baths, and getting him into his wheelchair from the Hoyer lift. His wife, she would sit there and watch in her own wheelchair, and she was very particular. She was very adamant about certain things, like what he would wear for the day, and what socks, and what shoes. So I was very calm, and at first, I just got to learn how she wanted everything done. So eventually, I was able to perfect the way that she wanted it and so her husband too. Towards the end of maybe a month or so, I got everything perfect. We were doing so well. Every night, whenever she would come back in for a visit [when we?] were done because I would put him to bed. He would always tell me, "Good night. I love you." He would think of me as his daughter. It was very, very sweet, very heartwarming. He would always give me just a kiss on the forehead. He was very nice.