Can you tell me a little about yourseld and how you became a caregiver?
My name is Cassandra and I live in San Leandro, California. I've been a caregiver for 12 years when I became a caregiver to take care of my mom. My mom got sick and I did not want her to go to a nursing home, so I decided to keep her at home.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
In all the years I've been a caregiver, the first one that comes to mind is my client Walter. When I was first introduced to him, he was 16 years old and he had been hit by a car. The doctor said he was brain-dead but his mom didn't give up on him. Every day I would go in and talk to him. After six or seven months I came in to work and I said, "Hi, Walter," He rolled his eyes and looked at me. I thought I must have imagined it. I called his mom in and she said, "Hi, Walter," and he looked at her too. We both started crying.
What became of Walter after that?
He went back to the children's hospital. He started rehab and from there he started walking and talking. I'm still in contact with them. We celebrated our birthdays -- his was on December eighth, mine was on December tenth -- So we went to Vegas for our 30th birthday. What I admired most about Walter is his dedication. Even though everybody was saying he can't walk or he can't do this or that, he never stopped. Now he can walk, he can talk, he can do everything.
What advice would you give to a new caregiver?
If I could give one piece of advice to a new caregiver, it is to have patience. They're scared of you just as much as you're scared of them. They don't know you just like you don't know them. So you're trying to figure each other out. You're trying to figure out what can I do versus what can they do. You're trying to figure out are they a nice person? They're trying to figure out are you a nice person. Don't be pushy with them, but someone has to take the first step. The more you come around and they get to know you, it ends up being a pretty good friendship that could last a long time.
What makes you proud to be a caregiver?
I like meeting people and getting to talk to people. A lot of the clients are older so they get to tell me, "Oh, gas was only 99 cent back in the day." Or, "I used to go to this store and get bubblegum for a nickel." I just like meeting people, I like meeting their family.