CAREGiver of the Month - Wanda

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Wanda’s Compassion Won the Day

Wanda is highly skilled at dementia care and knows the need for patience and an enduring sense of humor. The CAREGiver of the Month at Home Instead Senior Care® Livonia recalled being “dismissed” many times by a client, who later took a 180-degree turn and now has a difficult time when Wanda leaves for the weekend.

When Wanda first met the client, she delivered a terse question, mistakenly believing Wanda was late: “Wanda, where have you been?” Trying to defuse the awkward situation, Wanda smiled and said, “I just got here.” The client’s friendly and understanding husband anticipated the rough welcome and often encouraged Wanda not to take his wife’s curtness to heart.

One day outside the client’s house was especially memorable. Wanda explained: “My client was a dedicated gardener before her health and mobility declined. I always went with her and helped. When she would grab the sharp shearers, I would gently persuade her to let me do the pruning because I imagined the possibility of something bad happening if she would have fallen with them. One time, she reacted by saying, ‘You’re fired.’ ”

Wanda replied, “ ‘OK, you can fire me when we get back inside.’ By the time I had finished pulling the weeds and we got back inside, she had forgotten about it. Her husband laughed and said, ‘Wanda, you can come back anytime no matter what my wife says.’ He was a great guy.”

Sadly, the client’s husband died in September 2015, changing the dynamic. “Now I have to stand there for five minutes and convince her I am coming back because she is afraid I won’t. She is cognizant I don’t usually work weekends with her, and she begins to worry on Thursday nights and then on Fridays. She is so happy to see me on Mondays, and I hear, ‘Thank God you are back,’ ” Wanda said.

Maybe the CAREGiver honoree should be called “Winsome Wanda.” Recruitment and Retention Coordinator LeeAnn Loveland said: “Wanda is a great person and a huge asset.”

Wanda found Home Instead Senior Care online while looking for a home health care job. “I worked in an assisted living facility for about 10 years. With assisted living, you might have up to 30 residents under your care, but that is not unusual,” Wanda said. “I like working for Home Instead Senior Care. I like the experiences because I get to know each client.”

Even with just one or two clients, the challenges can vary from day to day. As her dementia has progressed, Wanda’s client sometimes wants to return to her childhood home even though she raised her family in her current house. Wanda said: “Sometimes she will ask where her mother and father are, and wants to go check on them. I try to refocus her. I convince her that her parents are gone by using their ages for the reasoning. She might ask, ‘How long have I been here (at her home)?’ That is the unpredictability of dementia, which frustrates her as much as it can frustrate those around her. The family is very active with her, and I know them well. The family will call to see how things are going.”

Wanda has a knack at handling personal care adeptly, including dressing, teeth-brushing and showering. “She has a shower chair, but she is afraid she will fall. I have to convince her to shower, but I never leave her side and help her completely. She said, ‘It is a good thing you are my friend!’ It melts my heart.”

Clients like the one she’s assisting, Wanda said, should remain in their homes if possible. “She is used to one-on-one care. She will never get used to facility care, and I hope Home Instead is involved if she does leave her home. She craves companionship and relationships,” Wanda said.

Wanda added, “Sometimes this work can be stressful, and you’ve got to be patient, but it has its own special fulfillment. Either you are a CAREGiver or you are not. You must have heart. The biggest thing I’ll always remember from this situation is that my client and her husband had personalities that were out of this world.”

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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