Hi! I'm Cynthia. I live in Pasadena, CA, and I have four years experience.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because, first of all, I had the opportunity. But second of all, I was retired ESL language teacher, and I no longer felt like I was helping anyone. And, when my mother came down with Alzheimer's and my sisters were not able to help-- we're from New Orleans and we went through Katrina. After that disaster, I was the one that had-- I'm the eldest. I stepped forward, and I took care of my mother for four years. I've been through all the stages of Alzheimer's. I've seen it on a personal basis. It changed my life. It made me want to continue to help others.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be, work with everyone who works with the patient. It's amazing, the people who are capable of teaching you a great deal. I learned so much, I cannot tell you, and I learned from the strangest sources. It's not always the learning type, sometimes it's strangers. Sometimes, it's just people who come and visit the patient. But, the most important thing is, keep aware of what you can learn, if you can help the patient improve. And also, take some time for yourself. I learned to meditate. I learned to be quiet. I learned to listen, and not to speak unless I was asked to. All I can say is that this is a remarkable experience. Take advantage of it because you will benefit more than the person you're caregiving. Because you'll learn so much from them. But remember, they come first. Whatever their need is, comes number one. And if you can do that, and produce that, I promise you you will get so much in return.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client I will never forget is my father. I took care of him and visited him daily after he had had a brain aneurysm, and he had the mental ability - or so we were told - of a two-year-old. I did not accept that. I pretended like I did, because I wanted to cooperate, and I didn't want to do any damage or go against any orders that were given. And so, I cooperated down the line. But you know what I did? I brought something that no one objected to. It was a tape recorder, and it had tapes of his opera arias that he loved so much. I recorded Verdi. I recorded Rigoletto. Music somehow brought back so many memories of my childhood, and the way he had raised us, and all the good parts of it. It was an experience. It was just heavenly. And I think that it was binding, and helpful to him, because it seemed to calm him down. And hopefully, he can remember that way back in the dark recesses of his mind.