CAREGiver of the Month - Bertha

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Bertha Jumped into Family Care as a Teenager

Some teenagers receive the opportunity to occasionally help infirm family members or neighbors. At age 15, Bertha Trevino took the initiative and plunged headfirst into family caregiving to help her mother for two years after her mother suffered from the severe effects of a seizure that occurred during a surgery. 

“I had to drop out of school to take care of Mom, but it was a joy to do so because it was my mother. I never regretted it. It feels good to have someone need me,” Bertha said. “As soon as she started walking, I went back to school and finished. You’d never believe how well she is doing now. Things seem to be back to normal for Mom, who lives two houses down from me.”

Bertha recalled when her mother came home from the hospital, and in-home help was scheduled by a case manager. “The situation wasn’t what we wanted at all, so I took over Mom’s care. She was in bed at the start, and I got her up more often as time went by. I told her we had to try to do that, or her body would get used to being in a bed. I helped her with personal care, such as baths.  Mom never gave up. Attitude makes all the difference, with both the helper and the one who is being helped.”

It was at that juncture Bertha knew she wanted to pursue a caregiving career. After working in a skilled care facility for a year and earning her CNA license, Bertha spent nearly three years with an in-home health company that provided medical care, but there weren’t many Victoria-area clients for the San Antonio-based company. She decided to look for something else and found owner Stephanie Niles’ award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Victoria.

“I liked everything I saw on Home Instead Senior Care’s website, including their reviews from clients and the clients’ families. They were awesome write-ups. I said to myself, ‘Wow.’ So, I became a CAREGiver on May 5,” Bertha explained. A little more than three months later, Bertha was honored as CAREGiver of the Month.

Bertha never forgot the experience of helping her mother. “I see caregiving as treating the client as if they were family. You assist them like you would want your family to be treated. It’s the Golden Rule,” said Bertha, who has three to four regular clients and works every day of the week except Sundays.

“Home Instead is an amazing company. Communication is terrific, and they are so quick to answer questions. Every company that does home care needs to train, and you need specific training for such conditions as Parkinson’s and dementia. You need the training that solves problems, and that’s what Home Instead does.”

Dementia care is on Bertha’s heart, and she’s perfect for it. “With dementia clients, there are many kinds of behavior. In general, you must have patience. You may have to repeat an answer 30 times a day, but you’ve got to do it with a smile,” Bertha said. “Some families don’t know how to deal with senior loved ones who have dementia, and some people grow weary of repetitive questions, statements or stories. As a CAREGiver, I never will. In addition to my client care, I try to explain the reason for the behavior to the family. It can be a learning process for the families and clients.”

Bertha will never forget her first Home Instead client, who was in hospice, had dementia and passed away a few weeks after she went to assist him. Bertha found ways to make their time fulfilling. “He was amazing,” Bertha said. “I’d sit on the side of his bed, and we’d carry on conversations. He was always talking about his childhood and Alaska, where he wanted to die.”

Because a trip to Alaska was impossible, Bertha thought of another way to help her client. “I wanted him to feel he was in Alaska by showing the movie ‘Frozen.’ There were reindeer in ‘Frozen,’ and my client wanted to watch it because it reminded him of Alaska,” Bertha noted. “His grandkids had the movie, and they watched the movie with him. The kids didn’t care how many times they watched the movie. He had forgotten that he had watched it.”

Sadly, Bertha’s client died on her day off. “I was with him the night before. He was still doing OK then, just getting a little weaker. He loved to talk, and the 12-hour shifts with him passed so quickly. We were able to keep him in his home, and I got to know the family well,” she said.

Referring to the inevitable outcome, Bertha said: “It hurt, but I feel confident our time together was good. After he passed away, I knew I still had work to do. The other clients need me, so my focus had to shift. You grieve in your own way, but helping others soothes the hurt somewhat. I love my work, and I want to stay with them as long as possible.”

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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