was CAREGiver of the Month John Lawrence’s single goal after he had worked day
in and day out with a 94-year-old client, a World War II veteran. John, who has
assisted seniors for more than three years with Home Instead Senior Care® of Iredell and Alexander Counties,
jogged memories from the client’s days with the U.S. Army in the European
theater during the struggle to subdue Adolph Hitler’s Germany.
parents were from Slovenia and shared a lot of the Slovenia culture with him
while he was growing up, including songs and music, and he was a professional
accordion player,” John recalled. “Ironically, my client ended up in Slovenia
while driving a jeep that had a 30-caliber machine gun mounted on it. When he
pulled into one town, the people were afraid when they saw my client. He pulled
out an accordion and started playing a Slovenian song and singing to break the
he told the story, it was the first time I had seen him smile. Needless to say,
a lot of my conversations with him after that involved Slovenia and accordions.
He would brighten up when we spoke about that,” John added.
has all the skills necessary to assist a senior, but he rates companionship as
one of the biggest needs of a client. The fact that he’s a male CAREGiver
matters very little to any of his clients. “For at least one of my male
clients,” John said, “if I could not be there, he would not allow a female
CAREGiver to help him bath. It is just their values, from that generation, and
you have to respect that.”
chuckled when discussing his situation as a CAREGiver at the Statesville
franchise that’s owned by Tracey and Creighton Gibson. “Out of 80- or 90-some
CAREGivers, I am the only man. This is not so odd for me. I was the only male
at one of my other jobs, when I was in counseling. In my master’s program in
speech pathology at Boston University in 1978, I was one of only four men among
the 14 in the program,” John added. “I’m a bigger guy, 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds,
and that works in my favor because several of the clients are fall risks. I’m
able to hold up physically if one of them missteps. I just make sure I stay
of John’s clients is a 92-year-old World War II veteran who survived the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the invasion of Iwo Jima. The client also
worked for more than 30 years as a civilian prison guard. “This client does not
talk about his war experience because he has severe hearing loss and had
dementia. As my second client, I’ve been assisting him for 2½ years,” John said.
“Because of his hearing loss, I bring a notepad and write notes to him. He
responds verbally, and that is how we communicate. His little dog is a Yorkie
and would be a candidate for sainthood if such a thing existed for dogs. His
pet is quite a companion no matter what goes on.”
a widow who had developed dementia, John took her shopping. “I also took her to
the cemetery to see her husband’s grave. She was a former fifth-grade teacher
who loved my writing and seemed to enjoy having me read that writing to her,”
another of his clients, John’s “antennae” are up for other reasons. “I have
suspected he might be a potential victim of senior fraud, and I alerted the
office and the client’s son. The son and I have been on the lookout for the
client at a heightened-alert situation,” explained John, who notes that
CAREGivers always are watching out for their clients.
is acutely aware of nearly all challenges that seniors face and puts his
compassion to work to provide safety, comfort and happiness. Asked what he
would do for seniors if he could wave a magic wand to make life better, John
said: “It would be two swings of the magic wand: I’d like to see research
continue to grow for dementia. Researchers are close to solving the dementia
question. I would like to see it cured so my cohort would not have to go
also like to see a single-payer health insurance system set up so things would
not be so complicated and costly for seniors and their families. It needs to be
fully funded so it is not decimating families and forcing them to make
decisions that break them up. The plan does not have to be 2,400 pages, so by
some magic, I’d like to see it kept simple.”
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