CAREGiver of the Month Joanna

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Joanna’s Eager Ears Soak in Clients’ History Lessons

Award-winning CAREGiver Joanna Jensen loves history lessons. She usually learns something new while engaging clients, whose spirits lift and long-term memories often shift into high gear because they get to share their lives. It’s a win-win.

For example, Joanna’s regular client is a member of the Ninety-Nines, a historic international organization for female pilots that was named for the 99 original members who formed the club in 1929. The most famous charter member was Amelia Earhart. Of course, Joanna’s client wasn’t a charter member, but she’s proud of her membership in a club that numbers about 6,000 in 30 countries. Her memories of being a pilot – she flew as a hobby – represent an opening for Joanna to continue to build a bond of companionship.

“My current client has dementia, but she is very aware and perceptive. Occasionally she will speak in sentences and also appropriate verbal responses. How I originally won her over is a mystery – maybe just being her friend and communicating with her did it,” said Joanna, a CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Las Cruces.

“I find the job rewarding through being able to relate and communicate with the client and other dementia clients because they appreciate that someone is conversing with them. It’s rewarding to discover the awesome family history, and that leads to conversation topics. I also have been able to learn of some common acquaintances, and their names pique her interest.

“Another rewarding thing with my client is that she has a giving, encouraging character. She told me, ‘You’re wonderful to me,’ and that statement came just when I needed it. Other CAREGivers have shared that she gave good words to them also. Challenges, on occasion, are the discernment of what might be bothering her physically.”

Joanna is a highly successful CAREGiver who has been with the franchise owned by Jan and Ron Wimsatt since Sept. 26, 2001, and has put in nearly 39,000 service hours. Jan leads the staff’s superlatives for Joanna by saying, “I have known Joanna for 13 years and have always known her to be the epitome of selfless giving. She wants to work and even when she had to have her hip replaced after a fall and break, and even after two years of her husband’s illness and passing, she keeps going. She is quite an example to us all.”

In addition to Jan’s praises, here is what others contributed:

  • Staffing Manager Ann Marie Vasquez: “When I think of Joanna Jensen, what can I say? These attributes come to mind: 1, Reliable. 2, Caring. 3, Punctual. 4, Team player.”
  • Client Care Manager Dona Martinez: “Joanna is very reliable and willing to help out with the client she works with. Anytime I need her to help with an overnight shift with this client, she always has.”
  • Client Care Director Faith Lester: “She is very dedicated to her client. It does not matter that her client has dementia, Joanna, still converses with her and reads to her. Joanna helps remember for her client.”
  • Community Service Representative Ariel Kannady: “Joanna truly cares about her client. She makes sure that all of her needs are met each and every time she is there. Even though the client has dementia, she still knows that Joanna is there to help her and is a familiar face.”

Joanna, who lives 19 miles north of Las Cruces on Valley Drive with a view of the Rio Grande River, got her start at the franchise after receiving advice from a nurse friend. “It sounded like a good place,” Joanna said, “and I felt it would be good to be covered by a responsible company. I joined Home Instead after working for several private-duty clients.”

Her introduction to caregiving actually came years before in Denver, where she helped her father take care of her mother for 10 years after she had a catastrophic diabetes-related stroke. “Afterward,” she said, “I was trained and worked in a Denver-area nursing center. This came after three years of college as a language major.

“After moving to Las Cruces in 1985, I received a private-care job for a German couple and could speak fluent German with them. The wife had an aphasia stroke like my mother. Her husband also had serious caregiving needs. After that, I had several other private-care jobs – all with serious-care demand. I have worked with several who had dementia.”

Joanna draws on her faith as “a major aspect” of her job, and her beliefs are a commonality with her client. “I feel the Lord guided me to be with my primary client and other clients as well,” Joanna said. “Bibles and crosses reflect that my client is a person of deep faith. Family members shared with me that she likes the magazine Guidepost read to her. I have that honor before she goes to sleep. I sense she listens and understands what is being said and enjoys. Private prayer for the client is also part of the job for me.”

Joanna said one of her avocations is serving in the Las Cruces chapter of Aglow International community lighthouse. “It’s a trans-denominational Christian group that has members in 170 nations,” Joanna said. “I am on the board and compile the local monthly newsletters and introduce the speakers. Intercessory prayer is an important foundation of this group.”

One of Joanna’s most memorable stories, fittingly, involves senior caregiving and her faith. “Quite a few years ago,” she recalled, “I had a dementia client who raised a ruckus and protested when I first began helping her, but she soon calmed down. She later told me, ‘I tried to get rid of you, but you had ‘him’ with you. I said, ‘Who is “him?” ’ She looked up over my head and pointed upward. She said that by protesting, she had put my guardian angel to work. A year later, she grabbed my cross and said, ‘You’re for real.’ ”

Indeed. The Home Instead Senior Care staff and clients are really glad Joanna Jensen is for real.

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (575) 522-7133 . Home Instead Senior Care also accepts online applications to become a in home caregiver.

For further information about the company, visit Las Cruces Home Instead Senior Care, or learn more about our company's senior home care services by viewing our digital brochure.​


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