CAREGiver of the Month Sally

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CAREGiver Celebrates Seniors and Their Lives

Validate, celebrate, innovate. In a nutshell, that’s what award-winning CAREGiver Sally Chaney does for her clients at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise of Livonia and Westland.

“Many seniors are very lonely. With my clients, I intently listen. I validate them, their feelings, their existence. I celebrate their lives and make them feel important because they are important,” said Sally, a CAREGiver since March 2013. “My clients have given their whole lifetime to family, work and helping out others. Now, for many of them, it is a tough stage of life.”

An example of Sally’s innovations involved an 88-year-old female client, who loves to join Sally in singing church hymns on their way to the bathroom (one innovation to “shorten” the duration of the trips). Sally got her client hooked on cheering for the Detroit Tigers baseball team during TV time. Sally used the opportunity to get her client to enthusiastically exercise a little more.


“I made it fun. I got her to do ‘the wave’ with me during the game because that’s what the fans do. She raises her arms over her head. It is a good thing. But we don’t turn on the game until ‘Family Feud’ is over,” Sally said with a chuckle. “Baseball was something new for her when I encouraged her to watch it to learn something new and discuss what she was watching. You’ve got to have fun, and she does.”

Sally knows all about affirming people, motivating them and teaching them new things. She spent 40 years in education, 20 as a teacher and 20 in administration, before retiring from her job as an elementary school principal. Sally had been retired for about two years when she decided to look for a job that involved helping people.

“I wanted to do something, not just sit around at home,” she explained. “The mother of one of my friends told me, ‘Don’t ever stop. If you do, then you’re done in life.’ One pastor pointed out that he doesn’t believe God intends for us to retire.”

Sally heard about owner Glenna Yaroch’s franchise from her hairdresser. “She was so impressed with Home Instead Senior Care that she told me, ‘You should go check on it,’ ” Sally said. “I had been driving an elderly couple to doctors’ appointments and thought, ‘I’d like to do something like that.’ So I did.”

Asked what appeals to her most about caregiving, Sally said: I like people. That’s the main thing.

There is no halfway in being a CAREGiver. You either are or you aren’t. You have to be dependable to your client and to your CAREGiver team.

“I do what I need to do to help them and then see where everything goes after that. That’s how you kind of had to do it in elementary education. There were no straight lines and strict formulas. You helped the kids however you could help them learn. As an administrator, that’s how your day would go,” Sally said. 

Sally also touched on other subjects:

  • “I love the office staff; they are great. They appreciate you and make you feel good.
  • “When I took the job, I figured on 10 to 12 to 15 hours a week, but I have worked up to 30 to 35. I have Saturdays and Sundays off. The staff is flexible about hours and good about allowing you to work less – or more – if you’d like.
  • “Training is good. I still sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ while I wash my hands to time out how long I should be scrubbing. Whenever I sing it, my client asks if I am washing.
  • “My faith is very important to me, and to some clients it is. I never push conversations about faith, but I look for clues, and if they want to talk about faith, I will. One dear lady, who passed away, would ask, ‘Would you like me to pray with me?’ I did. I’ve learned the rosary because another client likes to have me say it with her. They are looking for what’s ahead for them after this life.”

There are rewards where Sally has least expected them. For example, she did a fill-in assignment for an elderly man who loved baseball and was a big Tigers fan. “I remember one day when I had participated in a street ministry for my church from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I had the client from 4 to 7. I was tired,” she said, “but I was eager to clean his house and fix supper for him.

“When I reminded him that his game was on TV at 4 p.m., he ordered me to stop cleaning and watch the game with him. I told him that I would as soon as I prepared supper for him and did a little cleaning first. He ordered me to sit down again and announced that we were ordering pizza. It was companionship at its highest. So it was a fun three hours, mostly watching baseball with him only because he demanded it. All I thought was, ‘Thank you, Lord,’ because I was tired.”

At 64, Sally hasn’t put an end date to her work.

“I am no spring chicken,” she said with a laugh. “I will continue to do what I am doing as long as I can – that is, before I need it.” 


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