CAREGiver of the Month Vianca Rankin received a slightly longer name – totaling seven words – shortly after joining Home Instead Senior Care® of North Austin, Round Rock and Sun City, an award-winning franchise owned by Tyson Murphy.
A 92-year-old client, one of Vianca's first after becoming a CAREGiver in March 2017, came up with "My Memory Tickler and Source of Knowledge" when he refers to Vianca.
"It is because of my constant practice of writing notes and providing other personal reminders," Vianca explained. "He needs them because he is forgetful. He has relatively good mobility, and has a great sense of humor. He lives life pretty well right now with his wife, but his short-term memory is waning."
For instance, Vianca pointed out, "One Friday, I took him to his dentist to have some teeth extracted. Everything went well, and he was fine. I prepared plenty of soft food for him for the rest of the day and the weekend. Then I left notes for him and his wife to remind him about what he couldn't eat. One said: 'Don't eat cookies.' But he did not remember what had happened when I returned Monday, so I had to remind him again to be careful what he ate."
Vianca, an online college student who eventually wants to earn a degree in elementary education and special education, knows how to tap into a fount of knowledge for the couple. "When I have conversations with them and questions come up, I'll look up things on my iPhone. He says, 'Wow. You have everything at the tip of your fingers.' He's a really smart guy, a former college educator who struggles only because of dementia."
The client's 88-year-old wife also faces the same challenge, to a lesser extent. "She does the laundry, or I will help her with the clothes. She tries to clean the house, but I am there to help her. She is trying to remain independent. I am there to do anything they need," said Vianca, who loves and admires both clients, who've been married 69 years.
"Despite their short-term memory lapses, they know who I am and why I am there. They are awesome, so friendly, so nice. They have told me how they met, and they've told me about their kids. They moved to Austin in 1965, and they have interesting perspectives from which I draw because their long-term memories seem to be pretty much intact. They are both still doing well."
Sometimes when she works as a CAREGiver, Vianca can't help but think back to family caregiving days with her beloved grandfather. "When I was younger, I spent a lot of time with him. He was the only elderly family member I helped. It started out as a situation where he was watching me. He did not speak English, so I helped him with translations and paying bills because there was a definite language barrier. Later, we switched roles, and I was the one on whom he depended. He died 12 years ago, when I was 19," Vianca said.
Vianca was seeking part-time work when she went online and found Home Instead Senior Care. Other than helping her late grandfather, Vianca had no previous senior-care experience. She found the Home Instead Senior Care orientation and training to be helpful.
"I needed it. The office staff answered dementia questions, and they were detailed with procedures with the clients and Home Instead in general. The information is all laid out in my binder and available for reference whenever it's needed," Vianca said. "Communications with the office are good. There isn't a time when they haven't gotten back to me when I have had questions. With these clients, there usually are not many questions for the office. Their health is relatively good, and things go smoothly."
Vianca likes Home Instead Senior Care's flexible hours for her family responsibilities and the college studies in which she's carrying a 4.0 grade-point average after her first 12 credit hours. "I have four kids in school. The kids are curious; they ask, 'Can we meet your seniors?' " Vianca said. "Also, I am taking classes online through Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. I started in May, and it probably will take 3½ years. I'm off to a good start — I made the President's List."
Vianca added, "It is all working. My Home Instead Senior Care experience has been so good."
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