Hello. I'm Jeanmarie. I live in Glendale, AZ. I have been a caregiver for eight years.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because my father had Alzheimer's and needed people in the family to take care of him, his very personal, intimate needs, and most members of our family weren't comfortable with it, but I fell into and found it very deeply rewarding, actually. And then a friend of mine became very sick, and I cared for her for two years, and she actually died in my arms. And it was the most touching and meaningful moment of my life, with the exception of the days and moments that my children were born.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be, first and foremost, focus on getting to know the person you are taking care of. You're supporting them. You're helping them feel independent as much as possible. And give them reasons to laugh and smile and feel comforted and feel like they have, not just a person who's paid to give them care, but a person who's there and truly cares about them as a person. And become a friend in an appropriate way. Have strong boundaries, but be their friend.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client I will never forget is Audrey. She's 87. She has the most sparkling, bright, blue eyes, and I find that the time goes so quickly when I'm with her. I'm always sorry when it's time for me to leave. I just find her so delightful. She's always grateful, but I try to tell her it is a pleasure for me to care for her because time spent with her is so rewarding for me. What she gives me back in terms of her sense of humor, her wisdom, which is just laced with so many great, interesting stories and fun anecdotes that she tells about her life and miss I her, and I check in with her a lot. I call her when I'm not there and check in and see how she's doing, mostly because I just really want to talk to her, and it's the high point of my day. And I have a wonderful husband and a wonderful life, but I really, really love Audrey and I will never forget her.