When her mother needed assistance, Tommacena Douglas moved from Florida with three daughters in tow. When she sought a job, she went straight to Home Instead Senior Care® of Iredell and Alexander Counties. When Tommacena grieved over her mother’s death, she took solace from her strong faith and the experience of dealing with the loss of three clients.The November CAREGiver of the Month reminisced about her late mother, who died in 2014, while also offering a perspective on her job and her spiritual life. “I came home to North Carolina to help my daughter and sister take care of Mom, who had dementia. Sometimes you can’t make someone with dementia see things the way you see them, and you won’t get anywhere by telling them they are wrong. Compassion and redirection are keys,” said Tommacena, a Statesville native who was a senior care professional during her 11 years in Jacksonville, Florida. Tommacena’s mother yearned for her house, which she could see from across the street where she was staying with a relative. The request was not unlike that of the people for whom Tommacena assists as a CAREGiver. After many challenges, including a hospital stay, her mother finally got her wish to go home – but she died as she was moving from the car to her house. “Sad as it was, I was ready for it,” Tommacena recalled. “Mom had been talking a lot about going home, and it finally sunk in that she meant ‘home with God’ during her last days.”“I’ve lost four clients altogether, three before my mother’s death,” Tommacena explained. “Thinking back and reflecting on a spiritual meaning for the experiences, I saw the clients’ deaths as a bridge to an emotional acceptance of my mother’s death. I know they are all in a better place, and we take comfort in that because it is God’s promise for those who have faith.”Tommacena, an Evangelist at the Mt. Moriah Holiness church in her hometown of Mooresville, is sad about the loss of life, but she feels she’s been placed in those situations to comfort others, including clients and their family members. “I have seen and experienced the good and the bad of life. Speaking from what I have been through and have read in Scripture, I know we need to go through trials to become better people,” Tommacena said. She added: “I don’t push my faith on anyone, but I pray for clients and their families if they ask me to do so. After the deaths, I try not to be in the grief mode for very long. I do not take time off after the death of a client because there are others who need assistance.” By comforting and assisting those in need, Tommacena lives the Home Instead Senior Care principles: “Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart.” “I like working for Home Instead, and I like the fact that it is a Christian-based company. It is a privilege to minister to our clients and their families. With faith-based clients, it is a good chance to support their faith and maybe help them strengthen it,” said Tommacena, who in November 2011 joined the award-winning franchise owned by Tracey and Creighton Gibson. “I feel as if we are like family at Home Instead Senior Care. We’ve got a bond. I have a lot of respect for the owners and staff. I see them as part of my extended family.” To build trust with her clients and their families, Tommacena said: “I use what God has given me. A positive outlook is important. Humor and laughing are good things. The Bible says laughter is a good medicine. That’s all some people need: A positive outlook and humor.”Tommacena has been prepared to take the lead with her previous senior care experience. “I worked in private-duty senior care with the same client for 10 years and for another agency in Jacksonville. When I moved to Mooresville, I remembered Home Instead’s reputation from working in Jacksonville, so I went into the Statesville office and applied,” she said. Senior care admittedly wasn’t Tommacena’s first vocational choice. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice, and she had hoped to become a probation officer. “I wanted to help people that way, but I could not find a job. I asked God why, and He revealed He wanted me in senior care and had tried repeatedly to tell me. I am a modern-day Jonah who had not honored what God wanted me to do. Now I understand and enjoy being in His will,” she said.
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