CAREGiver of the Month
Rita Salazar, matching her determined client stride for stride on the city
sidewalks for about 30 minutes, pondered her options and tried several
dementia-care techniques before saving the day with her cell phone.
The episode began when
the client wanted to head out the door as he had done so many times before, and
he left with Rita close by his side like a Secret Service agent guarding the
president. Usually, the client would tire after a little while, and Rita would
gently point him toward his house for the return.
One day was different.
The client kept going. Attempts at redirection and refocusing, which always had
worked before, were surprisingly futile. So, Rita finally pulled out her cell
phone after about a half-hour of walking. “Generally,” Rita said, “I would go
with the flow, but this time I called his wife. She drove over and intercepted
us, and we got him into the car in good shape and took him home. I am not sure
how far we went.”
Asked where she thought
her client was going, Rita could only speculate. “He had mentioned from time to
time he wanted to ‘go home’ to his parents’ house. They had lived in Corpus
Christi. He would ask: ‘Where are my parents? Why have they not come to get
Rita has never been
frustrated by any client’s words or behavior because, as a seasoned and trained
senior-care professional, she had seen it before. Instead, she treated her
client, who was in his 70s, with the dignity and compassion he deserves. When
he refused to shower, Rita assisted him in cleaning up as the opportunity
presented itself and when he allowed it. Some days, he refused to eat until
Rita gently persuaded him.
“He had his moments, and
he could be combative, but never with me. He was comfortable with me. He would
start ‘sundowning’ (stirring) about 3 p.m. each day, but I almost always could
redirect him – except for our one long walk. Even then, we had a good outcome,”
For her part, Rita said:
“He was like a part of me. I treated him like a grandparent. He is a very smart
man, a Princeton graduate, but he has full-blown dementia and that is simply
not his fault. Home Instead’s service helped keep him out of a facility as long
as possible, but the family finally decided to move him to a memory-care unit.
Having me there also helped his wife with respite time so she could go out and
run errands and shop,” said Rita, who started in October 2016 with owner
Stephanie Niles’ award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise
Rita has worked in home
care for 15 years and was with another agency before she found Home Instead
Senior Care during an online job search. She also discovered she knew one of
the Home Instead Senior Care staff members. “Home Instead is a good company,”
Rita said. “I have a young family, and they are flexible with me and my hours.”
Rita’s first client, a
76-year-old stroke victim, was also new to Home Instead Senior Care last
October. They bonded quickly. The client has no other CAREGiver, and the
client’s husband takes care of her on weekends and at night. “We laugh and have
our moments – every day is memorable. She is affected a little bit by dementia.
She is in a wheelchair, but she loves to get out,” Rita said. “She and I go
shopping at a big-box store. When we are there looking around, the husband goes
for the groceries. I do meal preparation for all three meals and put supper in
containers before I leave for the day.”
Rita’s other client is
more deeply affected by dementia. “He is kind, and he knows he is supposed to
be with me. He remembered my name once. He is funny and always laughs at my
jokes. One day when I was leaving, he threw me the peace sign, and I had to
laugh,” Rita said.
Explaining her career
choice, Rita said: “It takes time and patience, but I love my job. There is
never a dull moment. You never know what will happen when you walk in the door.
Both of my current clients greet me at the door. I hear, ‘I missed you. I feel
spoiled by you.’ I am used to their routines, and they appreciate it.”
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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