CAREGiver of the Month - Alicia

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​​Mom’s Early Lessons Set Alicia on a Course to Help Others

When she was 6 years old, Alicia Gardner began helping her mother clean homes in their small northeast Oklahoma town of Salina. From the very start, the little girl with a huge heart could make beds and put away clean dishes just like anyone else. Her mother’s second job was never drudgery for Alicia – it was a chance to be with her mother and learn the values and morals that formed the foundation of her life. 

Alicia continued to assist her mother for about 10 years when she wasn’t in school. Her mother, Alicia said, raised her to be responsible. “My mom is the biggest influence in my life,” she said. Alicia, who recently was honored as CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Victoria, listed some of her life’s lessons while working alongside her mom and their impact:

  • ​“I learned how to put others above myself, how to take care of other people and their possessions and how to make their priorities mine.” 
  • “On the practical side, I also learned how important cleanliness is and how doing the little things in life in the right way really matter.”
  • “Putting these values into practice as a CAREGiver, I always put my clients first. While that is the most important aspect of caregiving, I also continue to learn because I am new to the whole senior-care realm. The clients and I learn from each other all the time.” ​
For Alicia, each day is an opportunity to do at least one good deed for someone. One of her memorable days with Home Instead Senior Care came with an 88-year-old male client who previously had been quiet and reserved.  

“I took my client to a doctor’s appointment. He unexpectedly turned to me and said, ‘I want to tell you I appreciate everything you do for me. You have no idea how much you have done for me.’ I was surprised, but I appreciated hearing that,” Alicia said. “It was the way he told me that struck me. I’ve received huge thanks from other clients, too, but his words hit home that day. He is a sweet, sweet man.”

Alicia added: “I want to make a client smile and feel better when I am with him or her, and it makes my day when I am told something like that. I feel I’m doing my job well and I am truly a help to a client when I hear those words.” 

Her 88-year-old client also has confided in Alicia. “He was in World War II and told me about it. In addition, he traveled a lot. Now all he has left are memories, and they are memories he wouldn’t want to trade for anything,” Alicia said.

Alicia’s journey to Home Instead Senior Care started about a year after she quit a nonmedical hospital job to spend more time with her young daughter and return to school. Alicia, who moved to Texas six years ago, has taken medical assistant and medical billing/coding courses at Victoria College and plans to register for online classes at Texas A&M-Kingsville. Last May, she began an online job search and found Home Instead Senior Care. Alicia has been a CAREGiver for owner Stephanie Niles’ franchise since June 8.

“I looked at Home Instead Senior Care’s post and thought, ‘I had never done anything like that, but I’m interested.’ I also wanted to gain experience in senior care,” Alicia said.  

Home Instead Senior Care’s training has provided Alicia “with a lot of useful information,” and she noted her college classes also had helped because they had included clinicals. Alicia was acquainted with dementia and the behaviors through family ties. “My dad’s mom died of Alzheimer’s disease. I was familiar with the challenges when I was young because I was around her, although I was not a family caregiver. Now that I am around dementia clients, I am not surprised by much and I know how to redirect and refocus,” she said. “Stephanie also recently went over dementia training with all of us, and it was helpful. 

Home Instead Senior Care has answered all of Alicia’s questions. “I had a lot of them,” she said, “and I still do. It is a learning experience. The office staff is nice, and I work well with them. I’ve gotten good client matches, and I absolutely adore them – it’s been great. I try to work with everyone – you’ve just got to gain your clients’ trust.” 

One big plus in working for Home Instead Senior Care is the flexibility. “The office is very willing to work with me. I start with a weekly 12-hour schedule and might add to it or subtract from it,” said Alicia, who is planning an October wedding. “Our schedulers will call with fill-in assignments or new ones. I try to stay flexible.” 

Looking into the future, Alicia said, “I’d love to stay with Home Instead Senior Care until I am finished with my education. My No. 1 priority is to provide for my family. Caregiving has given me an opportunity for new experiences, helping others and meeting new people.”

​All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about CAREGiver employment​, please apply online or call 361-433-0330. For additional home care information visit Home Instead Senior Care​.​​​


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