When Joshua Grossnickle was growing up in Massachusetts, he hung around his dad's machine shop and listened to the stories as the men chewed the fat. Joshua picked up nuggets of wisdom about welding, general repairs, construction and life in general. Kids his age, Joshua pointed out, couldn't give him much perspective on life because they had not lived it like those guys.
"In a practical sense, I learned a lot about what I needed to know by choosing to be there. There was a lot of history passed down, too," said Joshua, who joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Anchorage on May 4, 2016, and was honored as CAREGiver of the Month in October 2016.
Joshua bonded with the older generation before even starting school. "I lived with my grandparents for two years. I got to know my grandfather at his full best before Huntington's disease set in," Joshua said. "In some respects, Huntington's is degenerative like dementia or Parkinson's, which are challenges I see seniors facing now. Grandma was a nurse, and she eventually couldn't take care of Grandpa, so he went to a nursing home where I would visit often and stay for three or four hours. He died at a hospital when I was 7 or 8."
Joshua added: "At the end, I went to the hospital to see him, but the nurse thought it might be too much for me to take. My family insisted, so I went into the room and Grandpa told me, 'I have to go,' meaning he was ready to pass away. The doctors were amazed he could talk to me. Three minutes after I left the room, he died. I was so young, that 'death' did not register with me like it did with the adults. All I knew was that I couldn't see him any longer, and I missed that."
Joshua also recalled when two uncles moved from Massachusetts to Alaska and wanted his family to follow. "We told Dad, 'No. It's just a lot of snow, 40-degree-below weather, igloos and polar bears.' Then one of my uncles sent my sister a gold nugget, and we were ready to move. It took about a year, but we got there. Dad bought a wrecking yard and had some other businesses going. I went to school for three years to Anchorage and graduated from Wasilla. I learned Anchorage-area winter weather is not as bad as the upper East Coast of New England."
Joshua points out that working for Home Instead Senior Care "was like pulling a 180-degree turn." Most recently, he had built trusses for structures, worked as a building supply supervisor, was an equipment operator for a towing company and panned for gold occasionally. But he was seeing less and less of his three sons and wanted to make a change.
"I had not done professional senior care," Joshua said, "but I was looking online for a job where I could make a difference and find the right work hours to spend more time with my young men. I have family members who have been in senior care, and they told me it was pretty cool. Working with seniors is cool. I am enjoying life."
Joshua has assisted three regular clients since joining Home Instead Senior Care, and wives of two clients sent CAREGiver of the Month recommendations to the office staff on behalf of Joshua, who has been working 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shifts Sundays through Thursdays. The third client was on rehabilitation and moved back into his regular routine after his recovery.
"In the short time Joshua has been with Home Instead Senior Care, he has proved to us he deserves this honor," Front Office Manager Rose Marie Holliday said. "He lives in the Wasilla area, and he has no problem commuting into Anchorage. Joshua is such a hard worker. He is dedicated and gives 100 percent of himself to care for our clients. Joshua definitely has a heart of a great CAREGiver."
Staff Coordinator Vaosa Tuiolemotu said: "When I think of Joshua, I think of Superman. When Joshua is needed by his clients at any given time, I like to say that Joshua tears off normal attire of the day, puts on his Home Instead Senior Care uniform and flies over to his clients all the way from Wasilla to save the day."
Actually, Joshua has to maintain his Clark Kent persona with one client. "If the client sees something like 'home care' on our shirts, he gets upset, so I don't wear my Home Instead Senior Care polo shirt," Joshua said. "He calls me his 'driver,' and I think if he felt I was a CAREGiver, he would reject me and the idea of having a CAREGiver. He told me he liked me as a driver because he likes my sense of humor. I moved to a night shift with him, and it continued to work out well. His wife was amazed he hasn't asked me to leave at night."
Joshua has done well with his dementia clients, in part because of previous family experience. He also has completed the Home Instead Senior Care network's Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program.
"Some of my relatives have gone through dementia. I saw this when I was young, but I didn't realize how serious the condition was," Joshua said. "It is amazing to see dementia clients go through things. I have heard, 'Who are you? What are you doing here? Get out of here,' after I have started a shift. I go back out and wait for a moment or two and come back in. It is like hitting reset after a bad moment. Bad moments don't get to me. I know it is good to keep the clients as positive as possible, and that takes care of a lot of challenges."
Joshua's patience and endless supply of humor and jokes make him a "most wanted" CAREGiver. "I am humbled to hear that," Joshua said. "I make it about my clients. CAREGivers are the clients' lifelines. I let them do the talking and asking because I give them my respect. I have good guys. It is cool we can talk for hours. It is super neat to have gotten to know them, and I am in awe of what they've gone through."
Joshua added: "Being a CAREGiver does become emotional. I hate to see anyone laid up. I tell my friends, 'You don't know how lucky you are to have your health.' I also tell myself, if I am having a bad day, I know someone who has it worse. I am in position to make life a little better."
Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of in-home services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call 907-277-4663 or email recruiting and retention coordinator Christa McStay at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information about the company, visit http://www.homeinstead.com/637 or to learn more about the company's services link to a digital brochure at http://www.hisc637.digbro.com.
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