CAREGiver of the Month - John


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John Unlocks Pleasant Memories for Client

A smile.

That 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.

“His 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 ice.

“After 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.

John 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.”

John 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 close by.”

Another 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.”

For 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,” John said.

For 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. 

John 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 through it.

“I’d 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.”

All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about CAREGiver employment, please apply online call 704-924-9909. For further information visit Home Instead Senior Care​​.​​ 

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