"Hi, I'd like you to meet our good friend and CAREGiver, Linda."
Award-winning CAREGiver Linda Gonzales heard the phrase over and over at her clients' family reunion and never grew tired of the introduction. It was music to her ears.
"I love my husband and wife clients. I've done many things with them and their sweet family ever since I started with them last Oct. 12. I've been to a lot of events with them: a wedding shower, a family reunion, restaurants, the beauty shop and more," said Linda, CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Victoria. "At the family reunion, the wife made sure I was properly introduced to as many people as possible, and there were quite a few people. Just about everyone knew who I was, which made me feel great.
"They are good people. One daughter lives across the street, and she goes above and beyond to make sure her parents and I have everything we need. The same goes for their other adult children. I am not sure I have been matched with a more awesome group of clients and family. I enjoy and love all of the other clients I've assisted."
The husband, 87, and his wife, 76, have established enjoyable routines with Linda as she assists them during 12-hour shifts from Wednesday through Saturday as part of a 24/7 CAREGiver team. Thursday with Linda has been specially designated as "Mexican Food Day," when Linda prepares beef enchiladas, corn muffins, rice and sometimes beef tacos. "The best part of caregiving with my couple is that I love to cook," Linda said, "and they love my cooking."
The client couple touts Linda's mouth-watering culinary skills as top-notch, but meal preparation isn't always a solo endeavor. It can be a participatory activity for all three, which thrills the clients. "The wife assists me with cakes and cookies, as well as setting the table – just about anything they want to do and can safely accomplish," Linda said. "The husband sometime rolls the dough, and he gets a kick out of that. I prepare a pineapple upside-down cake they love, and we surprised the daughter who lives close to them on her birthday with one of those pineapple upside-down cakes."
After "Mexican Food Thursday" comes "Beauty Shop Friday," when Linda and the wife leave for two hours and another CAREGiver comes in to stay with the husband. "Beauty Shop Friday" isn't complete until Linda travels with her client to a drive-in where the client always orders a sweet tea with strawberries.
At home, the couple likes to bring out photo albums and artwork. "The wife was an artist who did a lot of painting," Linda said, "and she likes me to see the art. There's a lot of it. We love to sit down at the table often and look at their picture albums that include their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"Not only that, but she loved to crochet before arthritis limited her. She brings out blankets, mittens and other things she made, and they are impressive. Both husband and wife have their own personalities, and they are a joy to be with. Whenever I miss work, they are very concerned. When I was sick for a couple of days, they had one of their daughters call and check on me. I know the wife misses me on my days off because she tells me about it, and she always gives me a big hug when she sees me next. She always looks forward to seeing me."
Helping family is how Linda knew for sure she wanted to work in senior care. Linda, who has had a successful home health care career since 2008, joined forces with her mother to assist her grandmother for the final three years of her life. After her grandmother died in 2009, Linda earned her CNA accreditation and worked for a nursing home and rehabilitation facility before spotting Home Instead Senior Care in a newspaper ad and joining the franchise May 30, 2014.
"Mom still works in private-duty care," Linda said, "and I have a sister who might be interested in Home Instead Senior Care. She's just starting classes now for the fall semester, so we'll have to see how it goes. Another sister is in child care. We all care about people."
The bottom line with her job, Linda said, is that she loves her job and feels "very blessed."
Elaborating, she points out, "The office staff is very good to work with and terrifically responsive. I know how hard it is to schedule everybody and take care of problems that come up suddenly. The franchise training is good, and they've also allowed me to train CAREGivers who come aboard our 24/7 team so that we manage consistent care for the two clients. Our owner, Stephanie Niles, is an awesome person and awesome boss."
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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