CAREGiver of the Month - Suzanne


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Suzanne Puts Other First

Over the years, family caregiving has been a priority for Suzanne Kraemer.

When her mother-in-law, who had Alzheimer’s disease, needed help, Suzanne would make the six-hour weekend roundtrips to New Jersey to assist her and her father-in-law. Vacation time was spent with her in-laws, too. Suzanne never gave it a second thought.

Later, when Suzanne’s late sister became ill, was hospitalized and went into coma, Suzanne was there. She stayed by her sister’s side at night, talking to her softly and rubbing her hand. Suzanne also helped her sister get situated on her return home before she passed away. To do all of that, Suzanne put her quest to become a CNA on hold. She had taken the classes, but never found time to take the tests leading to certification.

With a chuckle, Suzanne said: “It is like John Lennon said, ‘Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.’ ”

After her sister’s passing, one of Suzanne’s friends, a retired nurse, suggested she apply at the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including Winchester and 25 other communities. “My friend never worked for Home Instead Senior Care,” Suzanne explained, “but she had come in contact with some of their CAREGivers because she had private-duty jobs. She saw them in a good light.”

Her friend told Suzanne: “You would be a good fit for Home Instead Senior Care. You are very empathetic, and I know you would do a good job for them.”

So, Suzanne applied and took her first CAREGiver assignment April 1, 2016, for owner Aaron Blight’s franchise. One year later, she was honored as CAREGiver of the Month. “I love being a CAREGiver. It makes me proud, and my daughters are proud of me, too,” Suzanne said. “I feel good about being a CAREGiver because I am really helping people live at home, keeping them from having to go to a facility. I want to help them function at home, be happy and keep their dignity and as much independence as possible. Dignity is important.”

Suzanne said working with the Home Instead Senior Care office staff also has been a good experience. “Everything has gone well, no complaints. I never feel bad about calling with questions because they are always available if something comes up that needs to be addressed,” said Suzanne, who lives in Edinburg, about 40 miles southwest of Winchester. “I like to stay close to home for assignments, and the office is good about honoring that. New Market, Woodstock and Edinburg are all places where I’ve had clients.”

For regular clients, Suzanne has a husband and wife, and two others. But she does not hesitate to help with others as “a pinch-hitter.” Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Sherry A. Heltzel said: “Suzanne is hard-working and will help as a fill-in who goes in at the last minute.”

As one of her memorable CAREGiver moments, Suzanne recalled a day when she returned to a dementia client after she had not seen the client for quite a while. “When I came back to help her at night, she remembered me even though she had later stage dementia. She might have not remembered my name, but she knew who I was by recognizing a familiar face and knew I was there to help her as I had before. She said, ‘Welcome home.’ It met so much to me. I loved working with her. Relationships are important,” Suzanne said.

Suzanne is on the go often with her husband and wife clients. “They like to get out, use their walkers and go to restaurants. They have some favorites. It is good to see them enjoy their time out and about, and I am glad to be a part of that,” Suzanne said.

While Suzanne likes her job, she still has a dream of becoming a nurse. “Right now, this is where I am, and that is good. I also am helping my daughters. One is in college and one is headed there.

I want to help them get situated and then think about other things. As Lennon said, ‘Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.’ ”

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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