CAREGiver of the Month - Monica

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Monica, Client Chat About Country School 70 Years Ago

Home Instead Senior Care® of Victoria, known for its simpatico CAREGiver-client matches, sent the perfect person to help keep a senior in his Edna home for a little longer. That person was CAREGiver of the Month Monica Valenzuela.

Monica and her client immediately discovered at least one notable commonality – her mother and the client attended the same one-room country school near the small town of Louis more than 70 years ago. Monica and her client could chat easily for hours on the subject because the lonely widower craved companionship. “Once we got started talking,” Monica said, “we would lose track of time. Sometimes I would have to rush around at the end of the shift to get everything done. Most clients don’t want you to leave, and he was among those clients.”

The client’s long-term memory was spot-on, Monica’s mother confirmed.

“Mom remembered him, and he had a brother in her grade,” Monica said. “My client was one year older than Mom, but they were in the same rural school. He even wrote a story about going to the school. My client, my mother and other students would ride in a wagon pulled by mules. That wagon served as one of their school buses. They talked about walking barefoot in warm weather so they could save the wear and tear on their shoes until the winter months.”

As her client’s mobility worsened, he did not get out much other than to tend to his backyard fruit trees. “He was independent and wanted to do things for himself. I always stayed close to him,” Monica said.

“He was a former pilot and photographer who had traveled the world. He had a room dedicated to his photos and mementos from his world travels, and it was fascinating. He had visited the Great Wall in China, Hawaii and everywhere else. He could point to pictures and mementos, and tell the stories behind them,” Monica added.

Sadly, Monica lost her client in November when he moved to a skilled nursing facility in a nearby town. “I really enjoyed him,” Monica said. “But I have other very nice clients, too.”

Most of Monica’s clients live in or near Edna, a city of about 5,700 where she also resides. “I am getting to know more people in town because I have been invited to my clients’ family functions,” said Monica, who joined Home Instead on July 1, 2015, following an online search and a recommendation. “One of my mom’s friends worked as a private-duty caregiver, but she knew about Home Instead and its good reputation, and brought it up with Mom, who passed along the suggestion to me. I really enjoy it, and everybody at the franchise is so nice.”

Monica wondered if the job would be a good fit because she had never done professional senior care. “I had worked in a lot of settings over the years: daycare, retail, newspaper delivery and at an industrial plant. I had a few doubts, and so did my sister, who is a CNA in a facility,” Monica said. “My sister warned there would be challenges. That can be true, but this job is a good match for me. I know that frustrations are not directed at me personally. Life is frustrating for a lot of seniors because of all the physical and mental challenges they face.”

Monica feels fulfilled by being able to keep her clients in their homes safely and making their time with her extra special. One male client loves to talk about politics and give his view of current events. A female client loves to shop for groceries with Monica as well as ride around the town and reminisce.

“The female client is a retired teacher who loves to get out, and she tells me all about the people she taught and remembers where they lived as we drive by. She has a lot of stories, and it seems as if she knows everyone in town,” Monica said. “In the stores, I have to run to catch up with her when she gets going with her walker or wheelchair.

“When she shops for groceries, she is very deliberate. It takes a while for her because she checks expiration dates on food and compares prices. I think it is a good deal to get her out.”

The male client has multiple sclerosis and loves to see Monica arrive each day. “I treat him with respect and dignity, and he does the same with me. He is getting forgetful and will tell the same joke three times, but I am OK with it and laugh every time,” Monica said. “He is really into politics, which he discusses quite often. Our big goal is to keep him out of a facility, and I will do everything in my power to accomplish it.”

The bottom line, Monica said, is that she’d like to finish her working career with Home Instead Senior Care. “This is it. This is what I want to do,” Monica said.

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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