CAREGiver of the Month - Joe


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 CAREGiver of the Month - Joe

At 71, Joe is done with the staid stuff in life. He just wants to help people, help them stay in their homes and help them enjoy life.

The New York native grew up in Brooklyn in a tiny apartment with a loving, compassionate family. He at first wanted to make people laugh and forget their troubles while learning to be an actor-comedian in the Big Apple. As budding entertainers often do, he worked at a number of jobs that added flavor to his life. Later, he served in the military. He then carefully crafted a successful 25-year career in New Orleans with an American multinational insurance corporation.

Now Joe thinks he has the best gig of his life. He’s serving seniors as an award-winning CAREGiver at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Metairie that serves New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. He has enjoyed his time with owner Lisa Rabito’s franchise for more than three years, joining the company after hearing from “a friend’s friend” about Home Instead.

“I felt I needed to go back to work, but I did not consider looking into my old company where I had built a good career yet felt unfulfilled and stressed,” the CAREGiver of the Month recalled. “To put the whole thing in perspective, I tell people that it is important to know how temporary life is and how precious it is. Life is about relationships and helping each other – that’s how I was brought up. Home Instead does that because it is an exceptional company, positive and professional, that does great work.

“At Home Instead, my clients are like my family, and I give them 100 percent. People need attention, someone who will make them a priority. One-on-one attention is a big thing. I devote myself to them, and they appreciate it. I am very particular with my clients, how I treat them and how I want others to treat them. Our clients have been through a lot, and I don’t ever want to be stern or seem unwelcoming. I get to know my clients, and their families, too. I open myself up and communicate with them. My job at Home Instead enables me to be jovial and laugh a lot.”

Look up “laughter” or “fun” in a dictionary, and you’ll see Joe’s picture. “I act silly with my clients, but that is part of my shtick. When I was young, I wanted to be an actor and entertain people, make them happy. I draw a little bit from that motivation to get my clients to smile. I like to get them laughing,” Joe said.

“I remember one time when I took a client to a park pond and brought two old loaves of bread to feed the birds. When we tossed the pieces out, we were suddenly surrounded by what seemed like a thousand birds. I started screaming like Jerry Lewis; it was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, complete with some diving crows. My client got such a kick out of my silliness that he couldn’t stop laughing. When our bread was gone, the birds left us in a split second.

“Why not make it fun for your clients, too? When I hear, ‘You make my day,’ it goes far for me. It makes me feel good. I want to do something good for someone at this stage of my life. Do I make mistakes? You bet. Never trust a man who says he has never made a mistake – that’s something I think Will Rogers said. I am still working to be better as a CAREGiver.”

Joe said he also knows when to stop being funny. “Faith, hope and charity are a way of life for me. My clients are at the end of a lifetime, and I treat them with dignity. The hardest part of the job for me is losing a client,” said Joe, who explained his take on life, death and faith:

“Faith is a big word. If you take a second and look around, just the idea that you’re here and existing as a human among the good and evil that goes on, that by itself elicits a lot of questions for some. As far as religion goes, I think people – clients – have their minds made up about God and their own philosophies about their faith. I am careful in discussing such matters. I can speak from my own experience of being a Catholic if they come to me and ask me about faith issues.

“I want them to feel comfortable expressing their faith to me. It is not my place to change their minds. Let them say their peace so that they can feel at peace. I have lost three clients to death, and I mourn their passing. It really is hard. For one, I could not bear to go to the funeral. You have to take time to regroup emotionally. You maybe wonder if you can go through it again.

“Then you wake up one morning and say to yourself, ‘He’s in heaven, or she’s in heaven. Well, stop being a wimp – it is time to get another client. Someone else out there needs me.’ And then I am ready to go. Death doesn’t scare me, but I certainly don’t joke about it with my clients. I am settled emotionally and don’t have a bucket list. My big goal now is to make life better for someone else.”

Joe doesn’t see complete retirement on the horizon. “I hope I can continue doing what I do in the years to come. I am not ready for total retirement as of yet,” he said. ​

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