Hi, my name is Sandra. I live in Studio City, CA and I have 10 years of caregiving experience.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because my mother became afflicted with Alzheimer's. And I was actually working at Universal Studios and living in Studio City so I decided I was close to retirement. So I retired from Universal and moved to Louisiana to take care of my mom. I couldn't think of a better person to take care of. I hadn't done any caregiving before then, but I realized that it was a good match for my personality. And I took care of her for three years until 2006 when she passed away. And at that time, I moved back to California and met my future husband who's mother was also afflicted with Alzheimer's. So when we got married in 2007, his mother lived with us and I took care of her until 2013 when she passed away. And I was there with her through all the stages of Alzheimer's from on set of it until final stages.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be-- is to have patience and know that the person that you're caring for, even though they might have dementia or show some signs of Alzheimer's, there's such a humanity inside. And you have to always be aware of that. And what helped me was I always treated someone with the same care that I would give my mother. My mother was precious to me. And that's the advice I would give is I really believe you have to have a certain personality to do this work. And that's to be very compassionate and caring. A natural caring is something you don't learn. It's something that's innate in the personality. So that's the advice I would give a new caregiver.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
Hi, I have a lot of funny stories. But the one that comes to mind now is when I was taking care of my mother and she was 90 years old. And for weeks at a time, she would say, "Get my mom on the phone." Of course, her mother had passed away 40 years ago. And I would say, "Well, your mom's busy right now. She can't come to the phone." And just humor her until that would pass away. And this was pretty late in her Alzheimer's that she did this, but I thought that was pretty funny. And it gave me a chance to-- despite the seriousness of caregiving, it give me something to chuckle about later. So that's the story I'd like to relate. I have a lot of stories because caring someone with dementia, it can be very challenging but rewarding. And have a lot of great memories, things you can look back on and laugh about, despite the seriousness of it all.