CAREGiver of the Month - Glenn

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Guide Sights In Perfect Seasonal Job as CAREGiver

Home Instead franchise owner Stacee Frost Kleinsmith was stalking big game in August 2013 when she ventured above the Arctic Circle with family members during a hunting trip. But Stacee, the only woman to have bagged all four North American bears with a bow, deftly shifted into CAREGiver recruitment mode when an opportunity arose.

After Stacee met guide Glenn Elliott and his hunting party during the trip, she did some talking. When his seasonal gig ended, Glenn had signed on with the Home Instead Senior Care® of Anchorage in January 2014. By April, he was honored as the CAREGiver of the Month.

“I knew Stacee’s father, legendary bowhunter Dr. Jack Frost, but I had never met Stacee. She is a very accomplished hunter, too,” said Glenn, an assistant guide for caribou, sheep, moose and brown bear who is also a project researcher for dangerous game in the Alaska wilderness (bear guard) and an Alaska Fish and Game technician.

Stacee noticed Glenn’s people skills and envisioned a potential CAREGiver. The University of Alaska-Anchorage graduate is comfortable with people of all ages – he’s got a daughter in second grade, and he’s also been a substitute schoolteacher and a mentor. His parents are “snow birds,” moving between Alaska and Arizona every year. Since they are very active, he’s thankful that they are healthy and independent.

“Stacee offered a part-time job with Home Instead when I am not busy with guide work. She said the opportunity was available when I was ready. I took her up on it,” Glenn said.

From guiding, hunting and fishing to senior care? As an award-winner, Glenn obviously has done well, but how was the transition?

“I was up for anything,” Glenn said with a chuckle. “My first job had me changing Depends and helping a client safely transfer using a lift. It is a humbling experience, and I love it. We’ll probably all get there, to senior citizen status, and I hope someone will recognize the inner child in us and tap into it so we will still get some fun out of life. That’s what I do with my clients.

“Every day is a gift and a blessing. We should all appreciate it. I have a good foundation of faith, compassion, ethics and, most of all, empathy. You have to put yourself in the clients’ shoes and be sensitive to what they are going through. It makes a senior feel better when you go outside yourself and try to make his or her life better.

Glenn said his Alaska native tradition plays a huge role in what he does for his clients. Seniors should be treated with respect, and they are esteemed within the culture of the Alaska native village. “In the Alaska native tradition, our seniors are culture bearers and considered a treasure,” Glenn said. “A lot of what Home Instead tries to train and teach dovetails with that mentality. I try to live conscious of that and live in a respectful way. That is something to which the modern cultural standard does not subscribe. Our elders should not be pushed aside as they are in the modern culture. Technology and computers are eroding the value of seniors.”

Glenn had one regular client, an 89-year-old World War II Navy veteran and previously helped a former Marine lieutenant colonel who also served in World War II.

“My current client saw action at Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and God-knows-what-other battles. He is a very accomplished gentleman, and it has been a privilege to work with him,” Glenn said. There are mobility and dementia issues, otherwise, he’s a quite healthy serviceman, very tough. I just help ‘dust him off’ and get him back into life.

“The era of old soldiers is just about done. They respond to compassion, respect and the energy you provide to them. It is a successful day if they can smile. I am honored to be able to improve the quality of their lives.”

Asked what advice he’d offer to male family caregivers, Glenn said: “Expect bumps in the road. Your mom and dad gave you life and loved you – as a family caregiver, the least you could do is help. Go in there with your head up and never regret it.

“Seniors sometimes can be difficult to connect with because many of them are beset by illnesses, including dementia. There is a lot of pain and sorrow in their lives, but hang in there and love them. There are also healthy, engaged seniors, so keep them engaged,” he added.

“When the challenges grow, you will need help because people tend to take on too much. You need to know your limitations, so bring in a relief pitcher if you need one. Don’t let caregiving become counterproductive – sometimes you need time for yourself.”

Glenn thinks he’ll return to caregiving after the next hunting season. “I have a child, and I want to be here for her,” he said, “but I also want to stay connected to Stacee and Home Instead because I have benefited from working with them.”  ​


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