One of CAREGiver of the Month Claudine Morency's clients is unable to talk most of the time because she is in the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease, but that has not stopped Claudine from communicating effectively with her. More than communicating, the bond between the two has grown stronger each day during the past 20 months.
"I have such an emotional attachment with the client. Her mind is sharp; her body just continues to slow down after 20 years with Parkinson's. There is a connection between our hearts," said Claudine, who began assisting the 70-year-old client in July 2015, shortly after Claudine joined Home Instead Senior Care® of North Austin, Round Rock and Sun City.
"We communicate in special ways because she can only occasionally say one- or two-word responses. She tells me things with a variety of eye contacts and facial movements. She rolls her eyes. She grins. I love her variety of expressions. It is important to know her routine and what she wants because she cannot do anything for herself. I feed her, and help another person with her bathing. In addition to other assistance, I also provide companionship."
Claudine praised the client's husband and sons, who do a lion's share of caregiving. That client and her husband stand in sharp contrast to another husband-and-wife client combination with whom Claudine works. "These two couples – four people altogether – are a good number for me. Both couples become like family, and I enjoy and love both of them. It would be hard to feel otherwise," Claudine said. "The situations are so different, and so is every day."
Talking about a 90-year-old wife and her 89-year-old husband, Claudine noted: "The wife is so sassy and feisty. She cracks me up. She's 5-foot-1 and can sometimes drop a curse word. All you can possibly do is chuckle. If she wasn't so sassy each day, I'd know something was wrong."
Claudine does the meal preparation, grocery shopping, medication reminders, light housekeeping and stays nearby because of mobility challenges. "The husband is kind and quiet," Claudine said, "and he helps with serving the meals after I've prepared the supper and leave. It works out well."
As Claudine mentions, "I love my job," and she's quick to explain why. While she was growing up, she watched her mother work in a seniors' community in Laguna Niguel, California, where her mother did all sorts of chores, including housekeeping and errands.
"The notion of working in senior care came from watching Mom help people while I also lent a hand at times. After I left home, I worked retail most of my life, but I did not feel as fulfilled as I did working in senior care. So, I went back to senior care," Claudine said.
She worked for the Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Bonita Springs, Florida, for 3½ years before moving back to Georgetown, Texas, and securing a job with owner Tyson Murphy's award-winning franchise in Round Rock. At the Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Florida, she was honored in 2012 for her exemplary service with the company's Shining Star Award.
In addition to being a CAREGiver, Claudine also is a family caregiver. "My 80-year-old dad is not doing well, and that is why I moved back to Texas. My mother is getting worn down trying take care of him. I live two minutes away from them. Dad has diabetes and congestive heart failure. He has had heart troubles since he was in his 30s," Claudine said.
"Mom is someone who guided me and taught me all of my values. She always has the heart of a true servant. Her health has taken a toll from taking care of Dad. My oldest son lives with them and tries to help them, too, but he also works six days a week."
Claudine feels good about her balancing act of helping family and being a CAREGiver, and she loves hearing about life during simpler times. "I cannot imagine the way things were back in these seniors' prime years, without all the technology we have," she said. "I've heard about historical figures, too, and that is interesting. The husband of one of my Florida clients was in the Secret Service. There were stories about President Kennedy and other famous political and pop culture figures from that time in the 1960s."
The bottom line, Claudine explained, is her feeling for the need to give back to others. "I say that," she said," because others have helped me with my life's challenges. Working for Home Instead Senior Care is a good way to give back. I am a good fit for the CAREGiver job. It is the best thing I could ever do. The fulfillment obviously comes from more than a salary. I love it. There is nothing like it."
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