Charles Dickens was right when he penned, "There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor" in A Christmas Carol.
Edith Lundy's clients and their families say Dickens' line perfectly describes the award-winning CAREGiver. She is a ray of sunshine, they say, on the darkest of days.
"Edith is a riot," said Destiny Wesley, staff coordinator at the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Houston, Bellaire, Missouri City and Sugar Land. "She keeps me laughing along with the clients for whom she works. When I send Edith out, I know without a shadow of a doubt that our clients are in good hands.
"Edith has a knack for easing the client's minds and making them forget about their problems. Most of the time, she is able to accomplish that through laughter. She will keep your shoulders shaking from laughter. That is her therapy for the client, in my opinion."
Clients and their families have told Destiny and franchise owner Greg Gomez-Mira that Edith has perfect timing, saying the right things at the right time. After watching an amazing turnaround in an 86-year-old client's attitude and demeanor, professional hospice workers said Edith's words and laughter delivered a soothing effect that no medicine could.
The CAREGiver of the Month's reaction to the compliments? It was predictable - she laughed.
"Just to see a smile on a client's face is worth a thousand dollars to me," said Edith, who has been a CAREGiver since Oct. 21, 2010. "It is very rewarding. You get your blessings by helping others. My mother was exactly the same way - she passed that trait down to me. I like to talk to people and help them forget about their woes, if for only a short time. I like to mix in laughter."
The timing, of course, has to be appropriate for levity - and also for straight talk.
"I think I can say the right thing when I am conversing with clients, and that is very important," Edith said. "I have the knack of being honest in a cute way, delivering a bit of humor so that no one is offended. Laughter and light moments have their place. Sometimes laughter is needed to take the edge off a bad situation."
Edith quickly won the heart of a hospice client who is suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
"Edith was supposed to be only a fill-in until the permanent CAREGiver was going to start," Destiny explained. "After the first day with Edith, the client's daughter called the office and said that her mother did not want anyone other than Edith."
Destiny said the family compromised and accepted the other CAREGiver, but the client also kept Edith on for two of the five days of service.
"Additionally," Destiny said, "Edith has made instant connections as a fill-in with several clients, and I have again received rave reviews."
"Connection" is a key word for Edith.
quot;I am from my clients' era - I might be the oldest CAREGiver at the franchise at age 63," she said. "I know how to talk to clients, and we have a lot of commonalities. We have that connection, and we can talk about nearly everything comfortably.
"I am doing this because I love it. It does make me feel good to know that clients like me and want me to return. I have always loved the elderly. When I was young, I would stop and see the seniors who resided in our neighborhood. I always have had a soft spot in my heart for seniors."
Edith enjoyed a successful 30-year career as an environmental safety and health department manager at a chemical company before she suffered disk and vertebrae injuries in a car accident that forced early medical retirement. An irregular heartbeat ended the chances for surgery. "I sat around home for three or four years and then found Home Instead on the Greensheet. I like being around people and helping them, so this worked out well," she said.
In addition to caregiving, she and her husband are taking care of a 5-year-old grandchild full time. She's part-time with Home Instead to make her busy schedule work.
"As long as I can do what I'm doing now," she said, "I will stay with Home Instead. I think I will be with them until I can't do it anymore."
Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call
713-774-2215 or email Recruitment and Retention Coordinator
Stacy McClennon. Home Instead also accepts
online CAREGiver applications.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.