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CAREGiver of the Month - Leslie

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Miracle Worker? Nope, Leslie Says, ‘Just a CAREGiver’

Some pretty solid evidence indicates that award-winning CAREGiver Leslie Pridgen is a miracle worker.

For instance:

  • Leslie’s 91-year-old client was on hospice when Leslie joined him in May 2014.
  • Doctors didn’t think the client would recover from pneumonia and respiratory difficulties.
  • With Leslie’s help and inspiration, the client started walking and became more active.
  • Leslie remained alongside his client at his cooperative senior living building to keep him safe and continually encourage him to increase his activity each day.
  • With Leslie cheering him every step of the way – at least five days a week and eight hours each day – the client was taken off hospice in July.

Was it a miracle? Leslie credited the client’s hard work and dedication. No matter how the dramatic turnaround occurred, the CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Anchorage loved every minute of the challenge and savored the result: “It gives my heart great joy to help get him off hospice.”

So what happened, Leslie?

“I gave him the idea that he needed to be on the move to whip this, and he took it from there,” said Leslie, who has been a CAREGiver since January 2014. “If he was going to overcome his illness and other challenges, he had to make up his mind to do it, but I told him I’d stick to him and help. I would insist that he walk around his building and continue to build by going longer each time. If he got tired, I had the wheelchair with us, and I’d have him sit down.”

What was the reaction from doctors and the other residents who watched every day?

“The medical people said we made great strides. I heard from one resident, ‘You did a great job with your client.’ It felt good to hear that.”

Leslie, of course, didn’t just snap his fingers to put his client on the path to better health. “I had to open up that door to his heart to get him engaged because he is somewhat shy. Once we got connected, it was off to the races with him,” Leslie explained. “When I got him to talk, he was full of jokes. I can joke around with him and encourage him to do things without getting any pushback.”

Leslie also uses incentives. “I buy him a piece of chocolate cake once a month when we get something done like going out and getting his hair cut. Really, it is all a matter of trying to keep him active,” Leslie said. “We have a favorite saying, or a signal, when he needs to get out of his apartment while I am there. He will look at me and say, ‘The walls are closing in,’ and I will agree and away we’ll go. I say, ‘Let’s get out of here.’ ”

Leslie recalls the poignant moments with his client, days when his client talks about his late wife. “When he brings up his wife,” Leslie said, “he wonders why he has gone on so long after she passed. He doesn’t understand it. I tell him, ‘I know you miss her. It is hard. But I know God has a better plan for you, and He wants you to press on for now.’ ”

Front Office Manager Rose Marie Holliday, for one, believes in miracles – and in Leslie.

“As far as his CAREGiver skills and attitude go, Leslie is everything and then some,” Rose Marie said. “A wonderful gentleman, he has shown great passion for his job and great compassion for his clients, and takes his job very seriously. Leslie loves working with people, helping them, having a simple conversation with them and seeing his clients’ faces light up. Leslie truly has a great heart of a great CAREGiver.

“Other folks told us that Leslie was a good listener with a sense of humor; a great guy who was an excellent cook; very caring and giving; a strong leader and a self-motivator-take-charge-kind of person. They were right. Leslie also has a history helping the elderly in his church, where he has made friends,” Rose Marie added.

The native of Washington, D.C., who has lived in Anchorage for the past 15 years, was tipped off to Home Instead by a friend’s son. Leslie, licensed as a Certified Nursing Assistant and Personal Care Attendant, said it was a good job lead.

Asked what he enjoys as a CAREGiver, Leslie said: “I like helping people. If I can make one person laugh, my day is not in vain. Companionship, communication, however you want to say it, it is very important not only to seniors but to anyone.

“It is real touching to be able to give back to these seniors. I admire them. There is an impressive 100-year-old lady who lives in the same building with my client. I tell these folks, ‘I hope I can move around like you are when I am that age.’

“As far as the franchise goes, the staff is friendly, and we all get along. Our franchise owner, Stacee Frost Kleinsmith, has an open personality and is a joy. Home Instead is really flexible with its scheduling, and they will try to work with you if they can.”  ​


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