Hi, I am Maria. I live in San Jose, CA, and I have been a caregiver for 10 years.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because my mother was a caregiver. I used to volunteer my summers going to the facility my mom used to work in. I took highly interest in it. The first time I became a CNA, I was 16. Thereafter, I started taking care of people from children all the way to the elderly. I also took care of my ill grandmother for two years when I was about 12 years old. It's something that comes very natural to me. It's where I feel more at home and it actually makes my day when I see the clients that I take care of happy and joyful and just in a different environment than being sad and lonely. It's not only second nature, but it's also a great satisfaction to help the most in need.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be to make sure that this is what they really want to do, because you are dealing with a person's life, a person's emotion, physical need, emotional need. So therefore, if this is not what you want to do, don't work as a caregiver. Because if you're not okay with what you're doing, you're going to transmit it to the person that you are taking care of. You also need to have a lot of patience and a lot of love and willing to give a lot of TLC - tender loving care.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
Her name is Lilly. This lady used to be very mean to caregivers. If they were from a foreign place and they weren't able to speak English properly, she would not let them touch her. But when I took the place of the other caregivers-- and I came in with understanding, loving, and care for her, and let her know that I was there to help here. I wasn't there to judge her. I wasn't there to obligate her in anything, that I wasn't there to mistreat her, that I was there as her helper and her friend - somebody that she could open herself to. With time, she was able to completely transform her attitude towards the other caregivers, not only because I made her understand that that's not how you treat people. It wasn't like that. It was more of letting the CNAs know how to approach her, how to maintain their emotions, how to control their emotions towards her - with the patience and with the understanding that they're there to help her out and letting her know that we were there to help her, not to obligate here. After that, even after leaving that job, I continued to go visit her and have lunch together once in a while. It's always been a good memory to share to other people and my children.