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CAREGiver of the Month - Elaine

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​​​Elaine’s Just Not the Retiring Type

Elaine Bailey tried to retire “12 or 13 years ago” but failed, and a series of part-time jobs and volunteer efforts followed. Elaine’s latest work endeavor began Jan. 29, 2013, when she joined the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including Winchester and 25 other communities.

“I don’t have to work. I want to work,” said Elaine, who will be 73 in October. “In recent years, we’ve lived in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. Wherever I have gone, I felt I always had to have a part-time job. I don’t like having nothing to do. Being a CAREGiver is perfect for me. Job flexibility is key for me.”

When Elaine and her husband moved back to Virginia to be closer to family, she looked for a part-time job and considered hospital volunteering. “Then I saw a newspaper ad for Home Instead Senior Care. I thought it would be a good fit. Although the job is nonmedical, everyone in my family had been a nurse, including my mother and two sisters,” explained Elaine, who recently was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for September.

Elaine is older than some clients, but she’s been blessed with enough good health to help others. A humble woman of faith who takes communion to shut-ins after she attends Catholic Mass on Sundays, Elaine insisted: “Now don’t make me out to be a Mother Teresa in the story.”

She added: “I don’t know exactly what the driving force is for being a CAREGiver. When I see something that can be fixed, I want to do something about it. I want to be useful to someone. My job gives me a purpose.” As a church volunteer on Sundays, Elaine sees opportunities to help beyond the spiritual aspects. “One church member lives two blocks away, and I always ask what I can do for him after communion. I never intrude, but I can see he needs the help sometimes.” 

With Home Instead Senior Care, light housekeeping and companionship are among her clients’ biggest needs. “I love to keep a clean, organized house. Clients like that kind of environment, too, but can’t manage to do that physically. They are so grateful for someone who can help them. My regular clients are absolutely the best, and I have gotten to know them well. I have assisted a wide variety of people, and I am very possessive of them,” Elaine said. 

Asked for memorable moments, Elaine turned to a self-deprecating quip: “You mean like the time I slipped in the snow and couldn’t get up?” Instead of memorable moments, she offered thoughts of memorable clients:  

Elaine felt as if she had lost a best friend when a military veteran moved to Pennsylvania after he spent 3½ years under her care. “We talked a lot. Seniors have so much to offer, many words of wisdom. He was a dear gentleman who had gone through the emotional trauma of losing his wife 1½ years ago. In addition to his wife, he loved to talk about his career, which men often do. They are rightfully proud of what they accomplished.” 

Another male client, 92, moved to assisted living. “He is the cutest guy, and I had him five days a week. I packed up the essentials he would need for assisted living. Separately, we also packed up his kitchen things, items he would not need. But when I was not there, someone unpacked the kitchen items. Internally, I was irritated until I learned the client ordered the unpacking because he thought he might be returning home.” 

An 88-year-old female client, who has physical challenges, is mentally vibrant. She’s on Facebook, and electronically plays games and solves puzzles. “We’ve become good friends. Her husband died a year and a half ago. She really likes to talk, and sometimes she doesn’t even take a breath while speaking. She’ll talk to me from the kitchen while I am in the laundry. I am ingrained with the family, who is good and very supportive.” 

One male client has a great sense of humor and a strong will to bounce back from challenges that hospitalized him a little more than a year ago. “When he left the hospital, he needed sponge baths and a gait belt. His condition has improved so much that he can do many things himself. It is important to promote a client’s independence and self-confidence while keeping him safe. He also has a wonderful family.”

One client died when Elaine was not on a shift with him and his wife. “When I heard, I immediately went to his house to be with his wife, who had become one of my greatest friends. He was just the cutest man. It is hard to lose a client because I get very attached to them. Not only do I get to know the clients, but I get to know the families, too.” 

Elaine’s summation put her job in perspective with her other work: “I had worked for a phone company for a long time. As a CAREGiver, I am not shuffling papers but instead, I am helping someone. This feels worthwhile. Ninety-nine of 100 clients really appreciate the help. Some of them really like to have the companionship, someone who will listen to them. They are my friends. I absolutely love my job.”

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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