The 77-year-old woman got on the phone with her son from Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Son,” she said, “This one
is the one.”
“This One” is the one and only Lynn Chattam, a CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Livonia and Westland. The phone call came on only the second day that Lynn was with the stroke victim. “We hit it off,” Lynn said, recalling the fall afternoon in 2011 when her client announced her approval to her son.
Many months later, the client’s son told Lynn, “You are like family to Mom and I.” And the client even told Lynn, “I should be dead by now.” No way, not with Lynn taking control of her situation.
“She tells me, ‘You can’t quit,’ and I know it. I will always hang in there with her,” Lynn said. “She told me that she depends on me too much. She asked me to go with her to her sister’s funeral, which I did. I know she needs the emotional support for situations like that.”
More than anything else, Lynn understands her client.
“My client had lost a son about four months before I started with her,” Lynn said. “We had something in common, because I also had lost a son. I had empathy for what she was going through.”
Lynn’s client will be 80 in December, and she continues to cope with the effects of her stroke that occurred before Lynn met her. “Mentally,” Lynn said, “she is very sharp. She is as fiercely independent as she can be. She puts makeup on by herself every day and can dress herself. Every Friday, I take her to get her hair done. Every three weeks, she gets her nails done.
“We have fun together – we go often to the same small mall, and everyone knows us there. Folks notice the smallest of details when they are talking to my client, like how she seems to be getting along better and better. For instance, a lady at her hairdresser’s shop observed us and our interaction and told me, ‘If I need someone to look after me when I get older, I want you or someone just like you.’ Of course, that makes me feel good.
“My client has done all of this despite being in a wheelchair and using a feeding tube.”
An amazing thing happened for Lynn and her client this summer. The client began eating two tablespoons of Cream of Wheat cereal. “It is a major victory for her, and it is a big thing to me. She has progressed to eating ice cream and soups like potato soup and broccoli soup,” Lynn said. “She also is eating chocolate candy, which she loves. She was 97 pounds when I met her, now she’s up to 105 pounds. Her son is very happy, and so is the rest of her family. Her doctors are very happy, too.”
Lynn has a way of pleasing people. It comes naturally. She got her start in senior care as a family caregiver for her aunt, who came to live with Lynn. “She couldn’t walk,” Lynn said, “but I brought her home from the nursing home. I remember that day. It was raining, and I told her that we ought to wait for another day to do this. She looked at me and said, ‘No. Please take me home now.’ She lived with me for 10 years. My kids loved her.”
And when it comes to kids, Lynn also is a compassionate family caregiver who was in foster care for a time. She has a huge heart and a deep abiding faith that have served her well.
“I am taking care of eight kids total. I adopted two of my foster kids, when they were 2 months and 18 months. Now they are 14 and 15. I also adopted two more siblings. When my sister died, I took in her 7-year-old son. I also adopted three grandchildren,” she said. “I am busy, but that is good. Home Instead helps me fit everything together.”
Lynn chuckles when she thinks about her beginning with Home Instead Senior Care after deciding to find a job when all of her kids were finally in school. She had driven past the Home Instead Senior Care office often and finally decided to stop and check out the franchise.
“I don’t think things could have gone worse with my first client than they did,” Lynn admitted. “It was so difficult from the start that I was ready to quit. But one of our staff members, LeeAnn Loveland, talked me into giving it a second chance because she thought I would be a good CAREGiver, and I am very glad that I did. Two days later, I had a perfect match.”
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
734-237-3832 or email
LeeAnn Loveland. Home Instead also accepts
online CAREGiver applications.
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Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.