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
“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
“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
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.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.