Before October 2016, Nae Anna Smith had never worked professionally in senior care. But after becoming a CAREGiver for Home Instead Senior Care® of Iredell and Alexander Counties, nothing came more naturally for Nae Anna than sharing the Home Instead Senior Care principles of "Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart."
"After all, I am in 'the people business,' " said the CAREGiver of the Month, who also serves as the assistant pastor with the Victory Miracle Center church in Statesville. Nae Anna's brother, Clyde Parks, is the senior pastor, where their late mother also was a pastor.
Ironically, the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her mother's death thrust Nae Anna into the role of family caregiver more than nine years ago. "I helped my mother, who was suffering from cancer, until she died. It was my first time in a role of a senior caregiver, and it was a labor of love," Nae Anna explained. "It is amazing where God will lead you."
Not unlike her mother's situation, Nae Anna built trust, took the lead and shared her heart with her first client, who passed away in January at age 92, less than two months after his wife of more than 60 years had died. "He seemed to go downhill after his wife died four days before Thanksgiving. He told me, 'I am ready to go, too,' " Nae Anna recalled. "I encouraged him. I always told him he had a lot to live for. He had grandchildren and was living in a beautiful house with a loving son who had moved him and his wife from Florida to North Carolina."
Nae Anna added: "Some days when I came in, he'd be a little down, which was understandable. I'd take him back to the past by asking him about his background. He was a talented and sharp guy. I encouraged him to tell me about being a pro boxer and a golfer who was nearly good enough to be a pro, as well as his days in the Navy and his life in Ohio. The bottom line was that my client had lived a full life, and he was a Christian who knew his eternity was secure and that he would see his wife again. The client and his wife were wonderful, sweet, awesome, loving people. That was true for the son and family, too."
It was hard to lose the client and his family, Nae Anna said, because she had gotten "really connected" with them. "They were part of my life. I learned their challenges and their personalities and preferences. They become like family. His son was a real trooper," Nae Anna said, "and you try to be there as much for the family members as you do the client."
Nae Anna now has one regular client, a 71-year-old widower who is trying to bounce back from a medical challenge that landed him in the hospital and included multiple treatments. "I have assisted him for a little more than two months, and I believe his condition is improving. He was weak when he came home, but he can do a lot of his own personal care," Nae Anna said.
"I take him to medical appointments, get groceries, do meal preparation and provide light housekeeping. I schedule out the week really well to get everything done for him. When I go out for the day, he asks me to say a prayer for him. I am happy to do that."
Nae Anna learned about Tracey and Creighton Gibson's award-winning franchise through a relative after taking early retirement from her longtime job. "I like being a CAREGiver because I like taking care of people. I have been able to match up with compatible clients. Home Instead Senior Care is flexible because I cannot work weekends and Wednesday nights because of church duties. That part is also good."
Nae Anna's favorite Bible verse, Psalms 34:19, seems to fit in well with her work as a CAREGiver: "The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."
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.