Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into caregiving?
Hi, my name is Donna, and I live in Antioch, California. I have about three years experience as a caregiver. I also have a nursing background, an LVN, and I'm awaiting to take my boards. I became a caregiver because I wanted to change people's lives and be able to give that back. I started off by my first client who had throat cancer, and I went through that journey with him. And now he's healthy and living life, and that was very rewarding to me so that's why I wanted to continue this career. In my career as a caregiver, I work with many different people dealing with Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's, stroke, cancer, schizophrenia, bipolar, cardiac, and many more.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
For all the people that I've cared for, the first person that comes to my mind is Joseph. Joseph was my first client I ever worked with. He had throat cancer, and I was with him from the beginning to the end, and I helped him overcome that, and he also helped me overcome looking at life in a totally different aspect. What I admire most about Joseph, which is my first client, was his strength, his strength on his outlook of life and how he kept a smile on his face every day regardless of what he was going through, and the chemo and the being sick and throwing up. He always kept a smile on his face, and that made me look at the world and what I go through totally different. I admire him and I look up to him.
What was your most challenging client as a caregiver?
The most challenging client that I think I've worked with are clients that have Alzheimer's. The reason I say that is because Alzheimer's is a very progressive disease to where their memory is gone, and it's hard to explain to the family the course of the disease and also being there for them. So at the end of the day, it's really all about the client regardless if they remember you were not in the morning, it's keep a smile on their face, help them with what makes them happy. If it's watching TV, if it's looking at magazines, if it's just taking a walk down the street. If they don't remember you, they don't remember you. You put a smile on their face that day, and I think they'll appreciate that.
What piece of advice would you give to a new caregiver?
What makes you a great caregiver?
If I could give one piece of advice to a caregiver, that one piece of advice would definitely be, be patient. Patience is number one. You have to take the time to learn your client. You have to take the time of what they like, what their needs are, what aggravates them, what makes them happy. You have to take that time to learn that person and build that relationship for them to feel comfortable and safe with you.
What I believe makes me a good caregiver is, number one, again, patience. I feel as though I'm warm and I'm very open, and you can come and talk to me and we'll get through this journey and struggle together. The moment that made me proud of being a caregiver is knowing that I made a difference in my client's life regardless if it was over a long period of time or a short period of time.