Hi. My name is Claudia. I live in Coursegold, CA and I've been a CNA for 14 years.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because my aunt had a-- grandma got really sick, and she got diabetes, and she ended up with a stroke with a left-side paralysis. And I was still in high school, and I noticed how much help my aunt was doing with my grandma. And she needed help, so I would go on the weekends and help her. And I noticed how much my grandma appreciated the fact that I was helping, taking care of her. So when I had got out of high school, I decided that I wanted to be in the nursing field. And when I was 21, I got the opportunity to work in a nursing home in Fresno, and I was able to get my CNA. And I've been doing that ever since.
What advice would you give to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be to be patient, kind, and smile. A lot of our clients or the patients, they were very independent when they were young and even to adulthood. And now, they need extra assistance, and they feel angry sometimes or they feel like they could do a lot of things for themselves. And they just want to try, so I learn throughout the years to let them try as much as they can for themselves and to be patient, because they do get frustrated easily and sometimes they say things that they don't mean to say. But with you being kind and smiling and being patient, they keep trying and trying until they can figure it out or until they have completed a task on their own and it's a good accomplishment for them.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client who I will never forget is Marty, he was very tender and kind. I worked with him for about ten years and in ten years he never had a visitor, he never had any family member's phone call. He was non-verbal, but a good eater - he loved Mexican food. Every time you talked to him, he would look at you, smile. And one day I was trying to leave early because I had an emergency and I remembered I was walking by him and he grabbed me by hand and he looked at me and he smiled and he started crying. And when I saw him crying, I just pictured him telling me that he thought I was leaving him. I had to reassure him that I wasn't leaving and he was my patient, but he was also my family and I believed that I was also his family.
He ended up going on hospice and I did take care of him in the hospice until the day he passed away. But I will never forget him because for so many years, the only person he knew was me and I am his family. And to this day, he's been gone for almost three years, but until this day, he's still in my heart and in my mind. And every time I see a picture of him or his favorite color green, it just brings me a smile on my face knowing that he always smiled and that he always happy when I was around or when other people came around to visit.