July 2014 CAREGiver of the Month - Shirley

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Shirley’s a Shining Example of CAREGiver Compassion​

Shirley Green will be the first person to emphatically say she’s no miracle worker.

If that is so, why has she been selected twice as CAREGiver of the Month for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Daytona Beach and Volusia County? Why did her 94-year-old client recently tell Shirley: “My condition has improved, and I am regaining some of my independence because of you.” Why did a doctor write a note to franchise owner Susan Miller and praise Shirley and a fellow CAREGiver for their compassionate efforts with his late wife?

It might be that Shirley’s “magic wand” is her gift of companionship, a vastly underrated quality. Here’s her perspective, and how it impacts her clients:

  • ​“I put myself in their world and try to look at life through their eyes, their vantage point.
  • “You should make it fun for your clients. I like to make the clients laugh.
  • “I don’t think you stop when you’re done with what is expected of you on a given day. I can always find something more I can do for my client.
  • “One dementia client wanted me each day to help dress her in outfits that matched my colors. She liked to show we had something in common, so I would look through her closet and pick something. She loved it, and it was easy to do.
  • “Although I keep telling myself I will not get really attached to my clients and their families, it keeps happening. I can’t help it.”

“Caregiving,” Shirley said, “is emotionally rewarding for me. I just like doing it – I don’t know how else to say it. When I come home, I am happy. I am not in this for the money. I always have thought I was a born caregiver. I always have been taking care of someone, it seems.”

Shirley cared for her mother for 15 years, keeping her in her own home as long as possible. After a hip replacement surgery, Shirley’s mother wasn’t able to bounce back and passed away in 2009. Tragedy also struck when one of Shirley’s daughters succumbed to breast cancer – Shirley helped with her daughter’s care for the final 2½ years of her life. Her daughter, a Marine who served in Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait, was one of four that Shirley and her husband raised.

Another of her daughters has been a CAREGiver for more than five years and persuaded Shirley to apply at Home Instead Senior Care in September 2011 when she was 76 years old. Said Shirley’s CAREGiver daughter, “Mom, you’d be great at this. You are not too old.”

And Shirley isn’t. In fact, she’s not even the oldest CAREGiver at the franchise; at 79, she’s a year shy of that honor. Age hardly is a factor for Shirley, honored as CAREGiver of the Month in May 2012 and again in July 2014. Retention Coordinator Dina Mertens said, “Shirley is truly a remarkable CAREGiver. She is always with her client as scheduled. Shirley is willing to help out when a shift needs to be covered with one of her clients. She shares so much of herself and her time with her clients.”

Shirley quickly discovered the Home Instead Senior Care franchise was excellent at training and matching CAREGivers with seniors. “I’ve had great clients,” Shirley said. “Maybe I’ve been lucky, because the clients and their families have been really good.”

One of those matches came about three months ago. After a 93-year-old woman underwent a hip procedure, she went from the hospital to a rehabilitation center and then needed help settling back in at home. So she called Home Instead Senior Care. Her only request: “I want you to send an older lady who has a sense of humor.”

Shirley chuckled and said: “The client got me. She is wonderful. I immediately felt like I knew her for years and have grown quite attached to her. My client is very sharp. She has never been depressed about anything. She has a good sense of humor. She has some great stories. On one day, almost two hours passed before I could get anything done because we chatted so much.”

The German native, who turned 94 on Aug. 2, endured World War II and immigrated to the United States immediately after the war. “I admire her so much. She is so brave. She had $9 to her name when she arrived in this country under her uncle’s sponsorship. She eventually had a 27-year career with Bloomingdale’s in New York,” Shirley said. “Her English is perfect, but she speaks German with some of her friends.

With Shirley’s help and assistance from occupational and physical therapists, the client hopes to be able to once again live on her own.  “She is gradually getting along better so she can do more for herself. She has been by herself since her husband died 16 years ago, and she had been very independent. She realizes, though, that she needs help for now.”

The day indeed may come when Shirley’s client can live alone, and Shirley will be both happy and sad. That begs a question: How long does Shirley want to continue to be a CAREGiver?

“You never know at my age, but I feel good,” Shirley said. “I do like going to work every day, and I am usually fulfilled when I get home. You can’t ask for anything more.”​


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