Hi, my name is Lea. I live in San Diego, CA and I have approximately 15 years of caregiving experience.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because I had to take care of my dying mother who had bladder and lung cancer, and then from there I had worked as a chef in a private home where there were two elderly people, and I watched a friend of mine take care of a lady with Alzheimer's - in her sixth year of Alzheimer's. I was very touched by the experience of watching how she handled the lady. I then started doing caregiving myself because I felt there was a calling.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be to first to be on time. Please do not talk on the telephone. Please pay close attention to your patient. Have the human touch, listen to them, make sure that their medications are given exactly on time, that the hygiene is done on a regular basis, that they are fed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner timely. If they're afraid, sit close and maybe hold their hand, hug, show the compassion. I feel it's very, very important for caregivers not only to show up but to show compassion and show that they care about the patient.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client I will never forget was 83-year-old Kyle, he was in his fifth year of Alzheimer's, very confused, very agitated. He was agitated-- he ran his fists into a mirror. I will never forget-- because I guess the family didn't come around, I devoted a year and a half without a paycheck. I was engaged to the son of this father, I just basically stepped to the plate because I could not bear the thought of this man being left alone, left afraid, lost and scared, and then very angry. And he was very appreciative. I let him watch American Idol because he loved the music. I let him watch Dancing with the Stars because he had been a ballroom dancer. I let him watch Archie Bunker, It's All in the Family, because it made him giggle and laugh. I didn't put anything on the TV that would get him agitated when the family would show up, it would be very upsetting to me. He got extremely weak toward the end, I never left him alone for a minute. I would sleep on the sofa right next to his hospital bed. He died in my arms, and he died happy. I feel that I made a difference in his life and it left a lifelong impact on me.