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CAREGiver of the Month - Anne

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Anne Misses Her Clients, Works on Another Comeback

Anne Johnson has been recovering at home since late December, when she underwent surgery and began a medical leave from her job with Home Instead Senior Care® of Winchester, Virginia. But the 71-year-old CAREGiver of the Month knows she’ll be back because she’s been through far worse times.

When she was 7 years old and growing up in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, Anne contracted polio. There was some doubt that she would survive, let alone walk again. Things were looking so bleak at one point that Anne’s grandmother penned a note to Anne and pleaded for her to fight hard while asking God to spare her life. “I kept the note and get it out when difficult times come,” Anne revealed. “I needed to relearn how to walk from Mom. She made sure that I helped myself back to health. I had to get up on my own if I fell.”

Anne’s recovery didn’t come without residual physical effects, but her strong character was forged. “I am weak on my left side because of polio. I have had more than 30 surgeries, and most of them are related to the polio,” Anne said. “Whenever pain starts to come back, I always say the Lord’s Prayer and just go on. God is my strength, and I stand on my Catholic faith. I am sure this job is one of the reasons God has left me here on Earth.”

No one would blame Anne for taking an extended leave or perhaps consider retirement, but Anne is not the “retiring type.” Anne has no doubt that she will return as a CAREGiver for the franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including 25 other communities in addition to Winchester. “I miss going to work. I still wake up at 5 a.m. and feel ready to help a client. I’ve heard from one client who wondered when I would be back. I told him I am going to get well and get back to work with Home Instead.” She said emphatically: “I feel blessed because God has brought me through all of my tests. I love my job, and I treat my clients like family. I am a CAREGiver because I love giving, and I want to give back to others.”

Anne, a retired telephone operator, has not only felt physical pain, but she also has experienced the emotional pain of losing her husband in 2011 and one of her two sons in 2010 at age 43. “My husband had a severe heart condition when we married. Six weeks after we were married, his condition completely turned around after I worked with the medical people on his medication, diet and exercise,” Anne said. “My husband was a meat cutter and later became a CNA for the elderly. He taught me a lot, and then I learned a lot about caregiving by taking care of him when his health began to decline again.”

Anne also served as a family caregiver for her mother, father, grandmother and an aunt. Her mother suffered with cancer for five years before dying in 1982, and her dad was on dialysis and was suffering from leukemia before he died in 1998. “My brother and I took turns caring for our dad,” Anne said.

Anne’s family caregiving experience actually began before she was 3 years old. “I saved Grandma when I was 2½,” Anne said proudly. “She was a severe diabetic and lived with us. Mom drilled me and my three brothers about how we would help keep Grandma alive if she unexpectedly went into a deep sleep – a diabetic seizure – and would not wake up. Mom showed us how to put the pill in her mouth and get her to swallow it.

“Well, I did it one day by realizing what was happening and making Grandma swallow the pill. My brothers were outside playing ball when they should have been watching her, and I was alone with her. Grandma realized what I had done and told everyone. I got two new baby dolls from relatives as rewards, and Mom made my favorite foods for a whole week. I wanted Grandma to do the same thing so I could save her again,” Anne said with a laugh.

Anne started with Home Instead Senior Care on Aug. 27, 2013, and immediately began taking on some of the franchise’s toughest cases. Anne has had many successes, and she recalls several memorable days that she fondly holds close to her heart. “When I gave an inexpensive Christmas gift to a client, he became emotional and asked why I had done that. I told him, ‘Because I could.’ It turns out that he had not received a Christmas present in eight years,” Anne said, her voice choking with emotion.  

Another client, a military veteran, loves to get out of the house and depends on Anne to do so. “I took him to a breakfast cafe one morning because he wanted blueberry pancakes. When he was done, he insisted on paying for both of our breakfasts and told me: ‘I might be over 80, but I know how a man is supposed to treat a beautiful woman,’ ” Anne said. “It made my day.

“I love to help my clients, especially the military veterans, many of whom have been forgotten despite their sacrifices for our country. I am tired when I hear about how veterans are treated. I can’t stand to see the mistreatment. I am honored to assist them, as well as all of my clients.”

All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call 540-722-8750 or apply online. For further information about our home care services, please visit Home Instead Senior Care​.


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