It’s in the Cards: Tonya Lifts a Client’s Spirits

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The client's 86th birthday came March 22 and went too quickly, and CAREGiver of the Month Tonya Adams fought the urge to gather up her client's cards and put them away. She had a better idea, one that promoted smiles and good feelings for a much longer time.

Why not strategically place the cards in a collage where her client could see them from his bed? That kind of thinking is one of the reasons why Tonya is an award-winner for Home Instead Senior Care® of Birmingham. "He has accumulated even more cards," Tonya said, "and I encourage people to send more cards, even if it is for no other reason than to cheer him up. He looks at the cards and feels the love that emanates from them."

Tonya is creating memorable moments for a client who is battling Parkinson's disease and spends most of his time in a wheelchair or bed. "Every day," Tonya said, "you try to make a difference in your clients' lives. By doing so, you also impact their families."

Explaining how families are affected, Tonya explained: "It is a challenge to get my client to medical appointments because of his mobility. When I get him there and back, I always communicate his daughter, who lives out of town, and let her know how everything went. 'We made it' are pretty powerful words of accomplishment.

"I can feel the joy in her heart ooze through the telephone because it makes her day when we accomplish a major task. It puts her mind at ease. If the clients' children trust you, the clients will. It also works the other way, too. In the final analysis, you are assisting both the clients and their families. You work at giving both a peace of mind."

Tonya encourages her client by "celebrating every moment he can." He is a proud Navy veteran who always wears a baseball cap with a military insignia when Tonya takes him out. "It feels good to see people notice his hat and thank him for his service to our country," said Tonya, who has been the client's "go-to" CAREGiver since last summer after assisting him off and on for the previous four years. "I build relationships with everyone who comes to help him, whether it is other CAREGivers, another agency that provides the medical assistance, physical therapists or occupational therapists. On any given day, he could see quite a few people in his home. I try to be encouraging to everybody involved."

Tonya also has had a weekend client for almost two years. Tonya was helping the client's late husband before he died Feb. 29. Now Tonya gladly has taken on the role of grief counselor. "There is the sorrow, of course, and she talks about him. Remember, grief has no expiration date," Tonya said. "She spent 60-some years with him, so if she wants to cry, I told her to go ahead. We both shed tears sometimes. I am there to comfort and listen to her."

Tonya applauds her client's attempts to "restart her life." Tonya added: "She wants to get out more, including going to church services. When her husband was alive, she would never think of leaving. When she and her daughter asked, 'Do you mind working in the transportation to church even though it is not your church?' I said, 'Yes, of course. God is God.' God shows no partiality. To those who seek Him, He makes Himself available.' I am glad to help with her faith."

Tonya's move to Home Instead Senior Care in November 2011 involved a step of faith. Her children were getting older, so she had an opportunity to work. Tonya spoke with a friend whose sister-in-law worked as a CAREGiveer. The friend said, "Why not try Home Instead?"

Tonya recalled, "I thought to myself, 'Indeed. Why not?' My family caregiving has been continuous, whether it is my immediate family or others. Caregiving is what I'm all about. Mom doesn't drive and needs more help, and I am trying to figure out how to incorporate her schedule into mine all the time. She's trying to adjust to retirement, and I am innovating ways to help keep her going. I also have a special-needs child, and some strategies work the same whether I am assisting a senior or someone younger. They are all people who need love."

Tonya is glad she became a CAREGiver. "Home Instead Senior Care is an excellent company. I have seen growth in the years I've been with them, and they are trying all the time to make things better for their CAREGivers," she said. "The little things make a difference, like the 'Massage and Chocolate Day' they threw for CAREGivers on April 20. It's fun and a good way to network with your fellow workers because we don't see much of each other. We don't all go to an office. A senior's home is our office."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of in-home services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (248) 203-2273 or email Anne Monaghan at anne.monaghan@homeinstead. For further information about the company, visit, or to learn more about the company's services link to a digital brochure at




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