CAREGiver of the Month - Karen

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Karen Supports Seniors With Humor, Singing

CAREGiver of the Month Karen B. has tasted some delicious moments while working for Home Instead Senior Care® Livonia.

Perhaps half serious and half jesting, a client told Karen that her 84-year-old husband "wasn't for sale." Replied Karen: "I see the 'sold' sign on him. Where did you get him? I'd like to go to that store and get one like him." Karen handled the situation with humor, but she also got the point because she has worked with many couples. "I am always very nice to her and make sure I talk to her first when I come in the door," said Karen, who assists two couples as her regular clients, with both wives needing the most help.

"With one couple, the longer I work with them," Karen added, "the more comfortable the wife has gotten. She's really been nice recently, and she seems to light up when she hears my voice. I do a good amount of refocusing and redirecting with her. Her husband is really patient and tolerant with her. You can see how loving the husband is by the interaction with his wife. He is worn out at the end of the day trying to take care of her. He is frustrated sometimes. Occasionally she can be combative and paranoid, but that is the dementia that creates the situation."

Karen knows what to say and do in nearly every situation. "This is my calling," she said. "I've always tried to help people. I was a foster parent, and I am helping an aunt twice a week as a family caregiver. She has had cancer, and her goal is to get back to Africa, where she lived 20 years ago before moving back here at age 60. Having something to look forward to is a good thing for seniors whether or not it can be accomplished."

Karen, who worked for the Ford Motor Company for 10 years before taking an employee buyout, has a strong medical and caregiving background and has taken classes that moved her toward becoming an LPN. She worked for the Henry Ford Hospital, at two Detroit clinics, at a nursing home and in private-duty caregiving. She discovered Home Instead Senior Care after seeing the sign when she drove past the office one day. Karen joined owner Glenna Yaroch's award-winning franchise in April 2013.

Karen meets each challenge and improvises along the way as needed. With one dementia client, Karen does everything she can to keep her calm and relaxed. "I know the little tactics. Generally speaking – not addressing specific cases – medicating seniors too much can lower the quality of their lives. Providing companionship is a good, healthy thing," Karen said.

For one client, Karen and the client's husband get involved in sing-alongs that include hand-clapping and arm waving. "She likes a little of everything, including "Take Me Out to the Ballpark" and gospel music for kids," said Karen, noting that one of the client's favorites is "If You're Happy and You Know, Clap Your Hands."

Karen pointed out that she never calls off a job unless she's sick or it's absolutely necessary because dementia clients always prosper with a familiar face. "It is too hard on them when they get new CAREGivers very often. They are confused and uncomfortable," Karen explained. 

During her three years with a private-duty client in Pittsburgh, Karen helped a dementia client get used to watching television. "He was a dairy farmer who seldom had time to watch TV during his working days. When we'd sit down to watch, he would wave to children he'd see on the TV, thinking they were real. He couldn't remember names and did not know mine. He would refer to me as 'That's my sweetie' because he knew my voice, and my face was familiar," Karen said. "I worked with him until he passed."

Karen savors the good moments. "For one client," she said, "Mother's Day weekend was pretty good this year. On Saturday, her son came over, and her grandkids called her on Sunday. It is sweet to see her communicate with them."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (734) 525-5300 or email LeeAnn Loveland. Home Instead Senior Care also accepts online applications to become a in home caregiver.

For further information about the company, visit Home Instead Senior Care Livonia MI, or to learn more about the company's senior home care services by viewing our digital brochure.


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