Stephanie Ortiz is a rapt audience of one for
a client who practices her weekly Sunday school lessons on the CAREGiver of the
Month at Home Instead
Senior Care® of Victoria.
The inspirational client is still teaching
Bible lessons despite her courageous battle with progressive supranuclear
palsy, a rare
degenerative brain disease that is often mistaken for Parkinson’s disease. “My
client has given me a
perspective on a lot of things I had not previously considered. We go to
different churches, but there are commonalities,” Stephanie said.
“My client always asks about my church, and I
tell her that my family and I love our church, the Rescue Church in Wharton
near my El Campo home. She encourages me to keep attending and keep taking my
three boys and raising them in a Godly atmosphere.”
Stephanie is one of the constants in the
client’s life – in addition to her deep faith – and serves as part of a 24/7
CAREGiver team in the client’s home. “She awakes at 5 a.m. every morning. I
prepare breakfast, and then help her with personal care such as bathing,
dressing and other things,” Stephanie explained.
Another client also has bonded with Stephanie.
The 85-year-old man, who recently moved to an assisted care facility after a
hospitalization, doesn’t want anyone other than Stephanie. The client’s brother
and sister-in-law love the interaction between Stephanie and the client, and
make a point of constantly praising her. “The client is very happy when I
arrive and cries when I leave,” Stephanie said. “I’ve been with him since
September, shortly after I started with the franchise. I’m not sure what I did
differently than anyone else, but he insists on me as his CAREGiver.”
Stephanie’s companionship and smile always win
the day for the former Air Force pilot who likes to tell Stephanie about his
military career and world travels. “He likes to remember the good old days. I
am amazed at him and the things he will tell me,” Stephanie noted.
Like many CAREGiver-client relationships, the
senior wants to hear about Stephanie’s family and updates on the athletic
prowess of her three boys who are 11, 10 and 9. Stephanie bursts with pride
when she recounts their most recent exploits. Her oldest son, Adam Gonzales,
won the state and regional competition in Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit
& Run Tournament and advanced to a competition at the Astros’ Minute Maid
Park in Houston, where he won his age-group title. Adam is a multiple-position
elite team star despite the loss of his right eye several years ago.
“When he lost his eye,” Stephanie recalled, “I
stopped attending school where I was studying to be a radiologist. I had done
two years of academic work, but my family comes first.”
Stephanie was training an employee at another
job when her friend told Stephanie about her second job as a CAREGiver at Home
Instead Senior Care. Stephanie had never done professional senior care, but she
had taken care of a grandfather for a while and also assisted three aunts who
all died of cancer. “I lost the last aunt about a year ago,” Stephanie said.
With her friend providing the inspiration,
Stephanie joined Home Instead Senior Care. “I love it, and I have a heart for
it,” Stephanie said softly but emphatically. “Some people get frustrated if
they are taking care of others, particularly seniors, especially if personal
care is involved. I don’t mind the challenges because I want to be a registered
nurse someday, God-willing.
“I want to take care of someone because that
is a blessing to me. When my boys talk to me about what they do, they want to
know if I am a nurse already. I tell them, ‘Maybe someday.’ This job has a lot
of fulfillment. In the future, I hope and pray I will have someone who will
take care of me – and do it well – if and when I reach the point I need help.”
Stephanie actually has had her own medical
challenges recently and was hospitalized during a weekend and part of a Monday.
She will be facing a procedure in the future, but she went right back to work
the minute a doctor gave his OK. “I do not like missing work at all,” Stephanie
said. “I missed my clients, and I know they missed me.”
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