Welcome to Home Instead Senior Care® of Ocala's CAREGiver Spotlight. Each month, one of our amazing CAREGivers will be randomly selected to share their story with their peers — YOU. We know you will enjoy reading and learning more about Mary.
CAREGiver Mary remembers a day more than a year and a half ago when she and her Home Instead Senior Care client got out of the house and enjoyed a memorable four hours. Mary planned the day as if it were a picnic.
They stopped at one park not far from the client's home where there were tables, and they enjoyed some time in a nice shady area. "Then we went to another park that was calming and quiet, a place where she could unwind. There were a lot of walkways and flowers along the walkways. She loved it," recalled Mary, whose client was in her 80s, still had reasonably good mobility and would comfortably travel short distances in Mary's car.
The solitude was pleasing, but the highlight might have been feeding the Koi fish in a pond. "There was a machine that dispensed fish food. When you'd throw it out on the pond, the fish would go crazy. My client loved it and I did too," Mary said.
"It was a good day. She loved getting into the outdoors. It took up the whole morning," Mary added. "After it ended, it was hard to tell how much she could recall. She remembered some certain occasions if I brought them up. I know the enjoyment of the day was fulfilling, and that's what really matters. We'd also take other walks around the parks where she lived."
Mary lost the client to a nursing home. "She was using a cane when she went to a nursing home. When I was assisting her, she'd leisurely drop her four-prong cane in the driveway and would quietly say, 'I'm not using that.' The way she did it was cute," Mary recalled.
The experience was just one of many Mary has had while working for the award-winning Home Instead Senior Care office that serves Marion County, including Ocala, Silver Springs, Belleview and Summerfield. The franchise owners are Jim and Mary Samuelson.
Mary joined Home Instead Senior Care in May 2016 following a 31-year career at a hospital where she worked full time. "Toward the end of my time at the hospital, I was the speech and hearing department secretary. I was able to get to know a lot of seniors personally while setting up their appointments," Mary explained. "I was considering this type of job when I left the hospital because I thought it might be rewarding. I looked into it, and I found Home Instead Senior Care during an online search."
When asked about her CAREGiver job, Mary said: "I do like it. I always say it is a good day as long as my client is happy. The client comes first. There is good communication, and the office always has someone available if there is a problem, even in off-hours."
Serving seniors on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care sometimes doesn't seem much different from the years when Mary's mother stayed with her. "My sister helped me. Mom had Alzheimer's and eventually went to a nursing home because of her needs. She was there almost a year before she passed away in 2003. My sister and I went to the nursing home every day to visit her," said Mary, the seventh of eight children.
Mary has been working for about a year with a 24/7 client who is in her 80s. Mary assists the client during late afternoon-to-early evening shifts three days a week. As with many dementia clients, behaviors can vary and sometimes pose challenges.
"It can be challenging at times, but many times it can be rewarding. Alzheimer's is that way," Mary explained. There also are meal-preparation challenges. "There are lot of things she won't eat. The office prepared a menu for her that we CAREGivers follow. We eliminate options and provide fresh-food meals from an assortment of things she'll eat," Mary said. "She doesn't usually say much, but if she digs in, you know she's enjoying it."
One activity always brings smiles. "It was good to get her into balloons. We swat them back and forth between us for entertainment. We've used helium birthday balloons. Usually, though, we get rubber balloons out, inflate them and pass them back and forth. We do it for 10 minutes or so," Mary said.
A conversation elicited smiles one night as Mary's shift wound down. "She was talking while I was helping her get ready for bed. She said something I didn't quite catch, so I said, 'I don't understand what you said.' She looked at me and said, 'I don't think I understood it, either.' We both had a laugh. It was a good day," Mary said.
All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (352) 622-6447 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead Senior Care, visit our website. Our Home Instead Senior Care office at 606 Southwest 3rd Avenue in Ocala (34471) serves Marion County, including Ocala, Silver Springs, Belleview and Summerfield.