Tammy Wild, twice honored as CAREGiver of the Month, never stops learning. Now, she's learning Spanish from a 78-year-old Latina client and former long-time schoolteacher who taught English to Spanish-speaking students.
"My client is thrilled to teach me Spanish. We work on it for a little while pretty much every day I am with her," said Tammy, recently honored as December CAREGiver of the Month at Home Instead Senior Care® of Victoria. The award-winning franchise, owned by Stephanie Niles, previously selected Tammy as CAREGiver of the Month in August 2015. She joined the Home Instead Senior Care franchise as one of its first CAREGivers in February 2014.
Tammy pointed out she always learns something from each client. Will Tammy eventually be able to roll her "R's" as well as someone who has spoken Spanish her entire life? Tammy laughed and said, "Well, I don't know about that. She taught English to children who did not know it. Now, she's trying to teach me Spanish. In addition to her help, I found a website that teaches Spanish, so I have homework. When I come in the door, she asks me if I have learned any new Spanish words. When she comes upon a difficult word, I'll tell her, 'I can't say that and we have a good laugh.' "
Tammy marveled at her client's wise, practical teaching methods. "When the school year would start, she would ask the class in Spanish if any of them knew English. If they did, she would make them her teaching assistants while also improving their English skills," Tammy noted.
Tammy's client is a fellow Bay City resident who has early-stage dementia and is trying to help her husband, a cancer victim who is on hospice and is bedfast at home. A hospice nurse comes daily to check on him, and another nurse comes twice a week for his personal care and additional medical attention. Tammy has daily split shifts four times a week with the client, helping at midday and after suppertime.
"She's a neat lady, and we hit it off on the first day. She's a hoot and fun to be with. I give her a break because she's often exhausted. Right now, her husband is suffering and wants her constantly. While I have tasks, I also sit with him to give her a break and am a support system for her. She understands everything that is going on. She talks during meals, and I let her do the talking," Tammy said.
"One minute she can be completely bright and happy and the next minute, sad and crying. That is not uncommon at all for her situation. As we sit and talk, I tell her it's OK to feel that way. She says, 'You're my favorite. You are awesome. Will you come back?' I reassure her that I will, and I write in a notebook that tells her when I am coming back."
It's an understatement to say Tammy stays busy. She helps another client couple twice a month on weekends and spends much of her time as a family caregiver. She depends on the Home Instead Senior Care schedulers to help her with flexible hours. "Even though we're supposed to schedule days off ahead of time, Home Instead tells us to call if we need a day off and they'll try to handle it," Tammy said.
"Caregiving is what I've always done, whether it has been professionally or family-oriented. If you don't have the calling for caregiving, whether it is for the young or the old, don't do it," Tammy said. "My kids and my grandkids are my life, and the Home Instead office knows that. On Dec. 13, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful 5-pound, 3-ounce daughter, who is my 12th grand baby. All 12 grandchildren are within 10 miles of where I live."
Two of Tammy's grandchildren are autistic, and she helps with their care between her Home Instead Senior Care shifts. "I love it, babysitting and nurturing them. The grandson is not verbal, but his whole face lights up when he sees me, and he kisses my hand," Tammy said.
Friends have told Tammy that with her job experience, she could be a CNA and should consider CNA classes. "But I've said, 'No. This is where I am supposed to be. I am devoted to it.' In many respects, I feel blessed, but I've also had some personal family challenges over the past year or longer. I've trusted God to take care of me, and my boss and the Home Instead Senior Care staff have come alongside me. They have been there for me every step of the way, and I truly appreciate it," Tammy 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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