Hi, my name is Tessa. I live in Los Angeles, CA and I've been a caregiver for 11 years.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because my grandfather fell sick back home in Belize and we needed somebody to take care of him, and so I volunteered to it. That's where I got my first couple years of senior care experience in my country Belize. Eventually, I moved out here to California, and I continue on as a caregiver with a patient that had a G-tube. I found this interesting because it's like everybody have a different type of need, and I'm the type of person that has a big heart. I'm very caring and I'm very concerned about what people go through in life and stuff. So it kind of helped me build up myself to be a better person, to care for other people even if I'm not related to them. And I just grew a passion over the years working with seniors.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be to be kind and working with seniors, you don't want to seem like you're demanding stuff or demanding them to do stuff. You want to give them the opportunity to still be independent. You don't want to take away their independence so what you would do is if they have a shower day, you would ask them rather than tell them to go take a shower or something. You ask them in a nice, polite way. And not come on to them aggressive even if they have Alzheimer's or dementia. Try to talk to them in a soft manner because sometimes the way you approach people kind of throw them off and you don't want to upset a resident. Because you don't want to cause them to react a different type of way.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client I will never forget would be Walter. He was a 99-year-old man and he was bed-ridden. He had a smile that I will never forget. And every time I used to walk in the room to go give him his morning care, he would have this smile that light up the day. Even if it's a gloomy day, if you're having a bad day, or anything, he kind of put that spark in your life, and he gives great compliments and stuff. And he never made it seem like he was punishing or anything, even though he was bed-ridden. I've worked with a lot of people that complain because they're uncomfortable and stuff, but Walter was always such a happy person. And I like his personality. And me and him, we got along quite fine. I used to take him out for walks and stuff. And I used to entertain him with my stories from Belize because he likes to hear about different people and their life, their background, their experiences in life. And he used to share his with mine, and he would also give me some nice advice. To this day, been about five years since he passed away, and to this day I can still see myself going about some of the things he told me back then when I used to take care of him. And he was like, "If you follow my advice, especially with the money part of it and saving, you're going to go a long way." And I believed him because he was 99 and he went a long way financially and he wasn't rich or anything. So I really, really miss him sometimes because sometimes we do have our ups and downs in life. And he was one of them people that would always make you feel comfortable with who you are, any time of the day.