When Linda Jackson’s father died in 2011 at age 84, Linda admitted that beyond the sorrow, she felt “empty and perhaps a little bit lost.” That void was filled when Linda joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Las Cruces in 2012 and began helping other seniors. This year, she was honored as a CAREGiver of the Month for the award-winning franchise. “I needed a job, something to do after Dad died,” Linda offered. “Since I had been taking care of Dad and was building up all of that senior-care experience, I knew it was a lot of the same thing Home Instead Senior Care wants.” That experience was developed over time with both of her parents. Linda took care of her father for six years, having moved from her longtime home in Flagstaff, Arizona, to Las Cruces in 2005. Her 78-year-old mother had died a year earlier, in 2004, of cancer. “Mom and I decided every day together or with family was a godsend after the diagnosis of her ovarian cancer, which she viewed realistically,” Linda said.“Dad had considered a nursing home before I moved to Las Cruces because he had no help here,” Linda recalled. “I don’t know how that would have worked because he was a strong-willed guy. Dad worked into his 70s as a vehicle- and implement-engineering expert and forensics consultant who traveled extensively before Mom got him to retire. He wanted to stay independent and do as much for himself as he could. In fact, he died a month after he gave up his car keys.”As her dad’s health diminished, family caregiving became more challenging. “Dad had three heart attacks in a nine-month period. After his third heart attack, he developed a staph infection and had an open wound. He had started to suffer minor strokes, perhaps TIAs. He did not listen to his doctors. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just before he died,” Linda said. Linda did not know it at the time, but her around-the-clock care for her father helped prepare her for the strongest challenges she would face as a CAREGiver. One client was nearly too much for her daughters to handle, and the client also had rejected several CAREGivers before Linda came alongside and spent nearly 2½ years with her. “I promised her daughters I would stay with their mother until she died or moved to a nursing home. The client died, but before she did, I implored her daughters to come see her,” Linda said. “Some clients get frustrated because they are unable to do what they formerly could do. Nobody is a saint, and sooner or later they will lose control of their emotions. Most realize they have no choice but to accept help, but it is difficult. They will take out their frustrations on the people they are with. It can be extremely stressful. I know I did the right things for the client and her family despite the difficulties. One daughter made me feel good about my care for her mother, and I still keep in touch with her.” Linda explained her caregiving philosophy and also pointed out that she believes her age is an advantage in working with clients. “I am 60, and I can relate well to my clients for many reasons. A sense of humor is important because clients feed off a CAREGiver’s attitude and are comfortable with someone who laughs and smiles. You’ve got to develop a bond with your clients, and you need to communicate honestly with clients’ family members,” Linda said. “The Home Instead Senior Care training is helpful. Much of the care is individualized and comes about by ‘playing it by the ear’ because every senior is different. Behavior directed by dementia is the most unpredictable, not only from day to day, but from hour to hour. You can’t take some things to heart, but you can refocus or redirect and sometimes step away from a situation and come back. You have to remember it is dementia driving the behavior.”Staff members gush over Linda when talking about her caregiving. CAREGiver Development and Training Coordinator Valerie Catalan said, “Linda is a very caring person and a hard worker, and she cares deeply for her clients and always advocates for their needs and wants.”Client Care Manager Dona Martinez added: “Linda knows what her clients need. I once talked with one of her clients and he said, ‘She just gets me. She just knows what I like.’ She would go shopping for him, and he had certain needs and likes for the foods he ate. She knew how to improvise when she couldn’t find exactly what he needed. He was so happy with her help. Sadly, he has passed away, but Linda did make her time with him special.”Community Care Development Director Leticia Rivera said: “Linda understands the importance of the role CAREGivers provide for our clients. Because of this, she is always willing to take on additional visits at short notice, in the middle of the night, whatever the time may be.” Linda has even changed her wardrobe to put a client at ease. “One client really likes cat things, so I have a whole bunch of cat-theme shirts and wear them for my shift,” she said. “Why not? It makes the day go better.”
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.
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