The introductory messages for Laura Kahler, although polite and respectful, came through loud and clear: Her new client “doesn’t say much” and “doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.” But for Laura, neither statement held up. In less than a week, Laura could have checked the boxes on the Home Instead Senior Care principles of “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart,” because she did all three with her client without pushing to do so.It turned out that Laura’s client, a 77-year-old widower, talks nonstop with Laura and prefers her company to that of anyone else except for family members. “He likes to debate politics,” said Laura, who began assisting the client after Election Day last November. “We are on different sides of the debate, but he agrees on a lot of viewpoints I hold. There is never any acrimony in our chats. We share commonalities because I’m not that much younger than he is. We recall the same events and political happenings from long ago; our points of references are about the same, so there are few explanations about what happened with elections. He’s a very interesting man who has wonderful children, and interesting stories.”Because Laura can put almost anyone at ease and help them with any need, she has been honored as CAREGiver of the Month for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise of Iredell and Alexander Counties owned by Tracey and Creighton Gibson. The award came less than a year after Laura joined Home Instead Senior Care in May 2016.Among the client’s challenges is mobility. When he went home from a rehabilitation stint following a hospitalization, Home Instead was contacted. As the client’s only CAREGiver, Laura assists him every weekday. Asked about a memorable day, she said: “There is never a dull day; they are all interesting. I find that he is funny even though a family member tried to warn me otherwise. This is another instance in which I’ve been blessed with a good client.”Laura uses the word “blessed” often when describing her job. “I feel so fortunate and blessed to be able to do what I have a passion for. I’m at an age where I won’t work at a job I don’t want to do,” said Laura, who applied at Home Instead Senior Care after seeing a television commercial. “I like the flexibility. It has gone so well, and I feel I’ve been so blessed with great clients, and great families.”Laura was looking into assisted-care facility jobs when she saw the Home Instead Senior Care commercial. As a family caregiver, she had helped her mother provide Alzheimer’s care for her father, keeping him at home for several years until he died. Later, she was a private-duty caregiver and worked at an assisted-care facility in Muskegon, Michigan, for nearly three years before moving to Statesville to join her mother and sister. “I enjoyed my assisted-living job, but we were always on the move because the two of us on the shift had 20 residents. We did it all, cooking, cleaning, housekeeping and personal care that included showering. There was no time to get to know the residents. You’d start talking with a resident and then the call lights would come on for personal care. I like senior care, but I wanted one-on-one care like I had with my dad. I want to get to know the clients,” Laura said. While building trust, taking the lead and sharing her heart last year for two months with one client, Laura drew on her enormous reservoir of faith to help a client and his family emotionally. The 70-year-old client had ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and he died last August. “The client knew he would die soon, and he was scared, mostly worried about what would happen to his family. He would ask, ‘How are they going to get along without me?’ ” Laura recalled. “We spent a lot of time talking about death. I tried to provide the best moral support for him and his family. I talked to his wife a lot – it was emotional – and she cried. I think it was hard on all of us, and I hope I helped.” Despite the sadness and feeling of impending doom that seemed to surround the situation, Laura said: “I could tell he was ready to go. It was a blessing when death came because he was suffering more and more.”Asked how much her faith helps with caregiving, Laura said: “My belief system is a big part of me. If I didn’t have faith, it would be much harder to get through life without fear and feeling down when the tough times come. That is where you need to stand strong for your clients and their families. Coming alongside someone and helping them is important to me.”
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