CAREGiver of the Month - Marge

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A 94-year-old female client depends heavily on CAREGiver of the Month Marge R. to help her shower and handle other activities of daily living. Sensing how tough Marge’s job is, the client asked: “Why do you do this?”

Indeed, more than 3½ years ago, the thought of a senior-care job seemed unlikely to the highly successful career educator who spent 26 years as a Project Head Start manager. Marge never imagined falling in love with such a job after she had been retired for five years. But Marge was bored and wanted to help someone.

In March 2013, she found Home Instead Senior Care® of Lancaster during an internet search. Marge had worked with children with special education and mental health issues while also training and collaborating with parents, teachers and school districts. “My plan after retiring was to continue with a part-time art gallery job, but it closed,” she said.

Home Instead filled that void, and Marge quickly pointed out: “I meet the most interesting and fascinating people, including dementia clients. What had started as an intellectual process for me has now become an emotional endeavor. Seniors, like the children with whom I worked, are each so different and unique.”

In education, Marge was interested in brain function. “Now,” she said, “I am equally fascinated with the thought process as we age. Many seniors have done such great things and now are struggling. It baffles me that dementia goes in so many directions with respect to affecting behavior. Each situation is truly unique. It is hard to say we must do this or that in each case. You have to remain flexible.”

She added: “One lovely client was so child-like, and we did activities that children enjoy. During the holidays, she loved making a collage of Christmas cards for placemats. Another client reached the point where she could no longer move her feet. Some clients want to visit with deceased parents and siblings. With one client, we didn’t tell her they were gone. I followed her husband’s lead in handling the responses.

He said we’d consider going to visit them later. She would either forget, or he would redirect her thoughts. Sometimes she would cry about not seeing them immediately.”

Marge brings respect and dignity into her clients’ lives: “My value system draws from the Golden Rule to do for others what you would want them to do for you. In addition to dignity, I want to make the clients feel valued and allow them to have as much control of their lives as possible and still keep them safe.”

Control, Marge said, means putting dishes back in place exactly where they’ve always been after she has washed them. “If you have lost the ability to function normally because of the aging process and declining health, you become frustrated. Control brings order and rule to their lives and is comforting. This is tough stuff. I remember seeing the saying, ‘Growing old is not for sissies,’ and it is true.”

Marge, who also was an elementary teacher, graded the Home Instead training as “excellent.”

“I developed training for teachers and parents, and I know good training when I see it. I hope I was as professionally supportive of those with whom I worked as Home Instead is for its CAREGivers. Every trainer has done an excellent job. Ideally, what you should have for a job is training, support, follow-up and continuing education, and that is what Home Instead does well,” Marge said.​


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