Janet Drummonds' husband chuckled and acknowledged that she should "unretire again."
"I've retired three times," Janet said with a laugh, "and I am not going to retire again. I have worked my whole life. As long as I am healthy, I should be doing something and not sitting around at home because I can do that only so long. I do enjoy jumping on our John Deere riding mower, cutting the grass and taking in the beautiful backdrop around our home."
What did Janet really want to do? "My husband knew I'd like to get out and help someone again," Janet said. Her eyes lit up one day in May 2014 when she spotted a newspaper advertisement for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including Winchester, Virginia, and 25 other communities.
Despite the distance, it appeared to be an ideal match. Janet and her husband live near breath-taking scenery 2½ miles outside of Strasburg, Virginia, about 23 miles from the Home Instead Senior Care office in Winchester. "Oh, I don't mind the drive to see my clients and meet at the office when needed," Janet said.
Asked how it is going, Janet said: "I love it. If you have a God-given gift, you should not waste it. I love Home Instead Senior Care and the clients. I have been doing this kind of work since 1987. This is a really good company, and I would recommend Home Instead Senior Care to anyone. They are flexible in working hours and flexible in matches. Some people love to work nights, but I don't, and that works out OK with the staff. The staff is really, really good. I praise them all the time."
The praise, however, has been focused right back at Janet. She recently was honored as CAREGiver of the Month with the award-winning franchise that's owned by Aaron Blight.
Asked about the Home Instead training, the veteran of senior-care duty said: "It works well. I like it because they provide a good selection of ongoing training. You don't just stop with orientation. The Alzheimer's or other dementia class is great because they provide a lot of simple little tricks or techniques to help a client. It's very practical training and also helps you understand the behaviors. For instance, some clients insist there is someone else in the house, and it turns out they're catching their images in a mirror and don't process that because of the dementia. That's when you refocus and don't necessarily try to explain everything. Above all, you never criticize a client but go with the flow as long as they are safe."
Janet added more perspective: "The trainers are a lot of fun. We are like family. They value your opinion and let you bring in ideas. I brought up shingles in one of the classes because it was appropriate and had not been discussed. That kind of information-sharing benefits everybody."
Above all, no matter whom the client is, Janet said: "It is truly important to listen. Some have taken care of other family members for years – maybe they've been in your shoes as a caregiver – so you have to consider and respect their wishes. Give them their dignity."
Janet admits she has had challenging clients. "Some clients are just like my mom was before she passed in 2006. She was 30 days short of turning 101, and many difficult words came out of her mouth, but I understood and know how to handle those situations. I have a special gift in that I let an unfortunate word go in and out of my ears and just laugh at it. I know how to be flexible," Janet said.
Janet credits her faith for sustaining her character. One client told Janet, "Thank God you have come to assist me. God sent you to me." Janet could not disagree. "God intended for me to be someone who takes care of others, and I know I cannot make it one day without the Lord's help. I think that is true with everybody whether they realize it or not. I've been with one client for about a year, and he was told four years ago that his Parkinson's disease would not allow him to live for more than six more months. Well, here he is. And I am happy to be a part of the effort that sustains him, helps his wife and daughter and keeps him in his home."