Hi, my name is Shelly. I live in Laguna Niguel, CA. I've been a caregiver for 17 years.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because I was contacted by a lady that I had met through a mutual friend and she had a need for her mother. She was going through cosmetic surgery and she needed somebody to take care of that whole procedure with regard to doctors and medication and caring for her. And also to care of the household and her husband, meals and errands, and just to keep everything running smoothly while she was under the weather. And then right after that she had an immediate need for her father, who had a series of heart attacks. And I took care of him. It was on a part-time basis. And then he had cancer and I became much more involved with him. I eventually took care of him on a full time basis and lived in for several years.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be that you must always, always lead with kindness and compassion. People are in need, that's why you're there. And don't underestimate the needs of the family as well. Because it's really stressful for people when their family member is compromising their need of care. They are praying that you're the one that's going to notice all the details.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client I will never forget is Ken. He was the kindest man I think I've ever met. Not just in terms of a patient but as a human being. I was so impressed always with his dignity through so many challenges health-wise, and so many incredible changes. He was such a brilliant man when I first met him and he progressed into vascular dementia where he really could almost not communicate at all. And yeah, I've never seen anybody with so much grace.