My name is Cynthia. I live in Lake Elsinore,CA and I have about 15 years of caregiving experience.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver originally out of necessity. It was an opening in the town that I lived in, in South Dakota, at an assisted living center. As I began working there, I realized what a important role a caregiver is to elderly people. Many people have no one when they go into facilities. Family don't visit as much so caregiving is a necessity for advocacy, making sure some of these people that don't have voices get the proper care and attention they need.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be, really listen and take note and try to read between the line with some of your clients. Of course, you're going to follow the care plan to a T. But sometimes clients feel ashamed or a burden to people, they don't want to have to be taken care of they want to be independent. So try to have some compassion and listen to what their needs are, they may not always voice their needs. So also make sure you listen to other caregivers and try to take whatever they say into account with caregiving. If you're new, you may not always know the tricks or the most efficient way to get things done.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client I will never forget is one of my first experiences in the assisted living center. I had no professional training at the time, I was just a caregiver and it was a small six-bed house where we just took care of people. So I had no idea of the cognitive issues some of the clients had. She was a 90-year-old lady, grew up in a small town, daughter of a preacher. So she was just as sweet as can be. All I knew is that she had some TIA and so whenever I greeted her she was always just very, very, very sweet. What everybody pictures a grandmother to be, just a doll and her family came and took really good care of her, she was always dressed very nicely and she loved to put on her jewelry and a little bit of makeup every day. But one day I came into the house to start my shift and she was sitting in the living room in her chair watching TV. I had approached her and said hello to her and asked her how she was doing and she became very angry and started saying to me, "Oh, you know what you did. Get away from me," those kinds of things. And it truly hurt my feelings because I did not know what was happening and so that was the start of learning all the cognitive issues that can come along with having a little TIA, or dementia, or some of the other things that affect some of our clients. But I really, really loved her and I was sad to see her go when she passed away. So I guess that's my story because she made a big impression on me at the very beginning of my career.