Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into caregiving?
My name is Ife and I live in Pittsburgh, California. I became a caregiver when I started caring for my mom for the past five years. While caring for my mom, I decided that I should get into this professionally. I felt like since I did it on my personal time, why not do it on a professional level? I have older family members who are experiencing dementia and aging. I feel that this is my calling.
Can you tell me something you have learned as a caregiver?
In my career as a caregiver, I have worked with a variety of clients ranging from those with dementia, memory loss, wheelchair-bound, hip replacements, etc. One of the most important skills that I've learned is that when transferring clients, it's very important to lift with your legs and not with your back. It's very easy for caregivers to get injured in this business. It's very important for us to know how to properly transfer clients from place to place.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
One of my clients that I'm most passionate about is an older lady who is 80 years old. She has dementia. She's a very accomplished woman. In the beginning it was very hard, because she didn't know who I was and I lived there with her. She was very uncomfortable at first because she had a stranger in her home, but after a while we've developed a very strong bond. I looked forward to going to work. It didn't even feel like a job. It felt like I was hanging out with my grandmother and we had a lot in common. It just felt like I was taking care of another family member and I enjoyed it very much.
What makes you a great caregiver?
People tell me that I am a great caregiver. I feel that I am because I'm a naturally compassionate person. In my free time, I've been mentoring at-risk kids as well as young girls. I think caring for young kids is caring for a very vulnerable population, like caring for the elderly can be.
What advice would you offer a new caregiver?
At the end of the day, you are doing a job; but you're caring for another person's family member. You're caring for someone's loved one and if you don't have compassion naturally then this is probably not something that you should be into.