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October 2018 CAREGiver of the Month - Janet


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Janet Turns Her Sorrow Into Client SupportCAREGiver of the Month - Janet

Rising from her sorrow more than four years ago, CAREGiver of the Month Janet Harris’s path to healing has allowed her to comfort a client. Janet’s husband of 19 years died March 26, 2014, five days before her birthday and two years after Janet’s mother had passed away.

“I lost them in a close time proximity. It hits you head-on emotionally when you think, ‘They’re not coming back,’ ” said Janet, who joined Home Instead Senior Care®  of Birmingham in September 2017 and became a weekend CAREGiver. Janet has worked full time for nearly 25 years as an executive assistant in Research Business Operations at Wayne State University.

“I remember crying all night, but it’s OK to cry. You can go to that emotional place, with the tears and intense sadness, but you just can’t stay there. As I told my client, ‘Don’t bring it to the point of lingering there for a long time or continually going back. Choose to think about memories that carry you past the challenging times.’ If I didn’t have good memories, it would be harder. In my case, I also went back to work because it was an emotion release.”

When the client lost her husband of 63 years, she sought Janet’s help and said she’s been blessed by Janet’s empathy and wise words. Janet explained: “I understood what she was going through. I went through the same stages of loss, so I knew I could help. Her sorrow brought back my own intense memories.”

Since the client has amazing lifetime memories, Janet said, she has a solid refuge. “We talk it out. She and other clients appreciate when I share my experiences. When she compares her memories with mine, it’s easy to see we have had good times. I tell her: ‘What I wouldn’t have given for 63 years of marriage like you had.’ She has other major positives: A loving family and a strong spiritual base. When tough times arrive, you have to turn to your faith. I encourage her to encourage herself by envisioning her husband. I tell the client, ‘He’s smiling down on you.’ ”

After her husband’s death, Janet decided to fill the extra time in her life with a fulfilling part-time job, and she searched online to see what part-time positions were available. “The first online communication I received was from Home Instead Senior Care’s Birmingham office. Fast forwarding, I am still enjoying my employment with Birmingham,” said Janet, who was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for October 2018.

Before coming to Home Instead Senior Care, Janet worked part time at a Rochester Hills care community in the Alzheimer’s unit of 12 residents. She also worked at a hospice care office in Southfield. “I took dementia-care classes, including one through the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University. I obviously didn’t know I’d need those experiences later, but God saw a need for me to do that. Other experiences, including my mother’s dementia, have been helpful,” Janet said.

As a family caregiver, Janet helped her mother, who was diagnosed with dementia. Janet also provided care for her husband throughout his diagnosis with dementia. “Mom struggled with Alzheimer’s for three years. My husband got sick right after Mom died. I had no idea he wouldn’t make it. It was tough, but I made it past those tough times,” Janet said.

Working for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care franchise, owned by Bert and Stephanie Copple, has been a plus for Janet. “I love to be a part of the big picture. That is, making sure the elderly are protected in every way. They accept me into their homes to provide care and protection, and I don’t take it for granted. The clients get to know your schedule and when you will be there to help. I take pride in keeping that commitment by avoiding missed days and by arriving before the start of my shift,” Janet said.

“Although I have other assignments, I like to say my two regular clients are beautiful, young ladies. I look forward to our special talks on current events as well as their sharing of childhood and adulthood memories. I’m in the home to assist, but both ladies exhibit independence in what they like to eat, what they will wear and how they pay extra attention to their appearance while applying makeup and extra curls to their hair. I love to see the progress they have made. Both enjoy life and have a great sense of humor. Our days and nights are filled with so much laughter. Each visit begins with hugs and kisses, and ends with hugs and kisses. I truly love and adore being in their company.”

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. For further information about the company, visit our Home Instead Senior Care website or to learn more about the company’s services link to our home care digital brochure.

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