Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into caregiving?
My name is Lajae. I live in Oakland California, and I've been a caregiver for over four years now. I became a caregiver because when I was younger and my grandmother was sick I was the only one to help her at the time. I helped her all the way until she passed away. It made me want to help others, especially the elderly, care for them and be there.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
Out of all the people that I cared for, the first person that comes to mind is John. He was a sweet man. He had dementia, so he would sometimes think that I was his wife and stuff like that. As I got more comfortable with him, we got close and we built a strong bond. He taught me different things, like how to cook certain things, even though he was kind of weak. He became like a father or a grandfather figure to me. I still keep in touch with him. He was a strong man. Even though he could barely walk, he would still try. Even though he could barely feed himself, he would still want to. He was just strong and he had a lot of pride and I admire that about him.
What advice would you give to a new caregiver?
If I can give one piece of advice to a new caregiver, it would definitely be to be patient. Take your time to learn your client. When you first get there you have a list of things that you are told to do, and so you just focus on doing them, but don't focus on getting to know your client personally. Learning their likes and dislikes is very important. When I first started I was just eager to get the job done. And John, he taught me to slow down and take my time. I kind of feel like I would say just to be patient, learn about your client, and build a bond because that's important.
What is your proudest moment as a caregiver?
My proudest moment as a caregiver was when I was working at a nursing home. There was an older lady named Bernice who had had a stroke, so she couldn't walk as well and the nursing home was like a rehabilitation center. Every day she would have to go to physical therapy and do her exercises and she didn't want to. When I came and talked to her, she liked me, so she would listen to certain things I had to say. I made it a point every day to make sure she'd go to physical therapy. I'd walk with her. It's a baby step but eventually she got there. At the end of the summer, my last day there, she was walking. She was walking with a cane, but she was walking. I felt proud because I felt like I helped her do something that she thought she would never do again.