Victoria Baldwin knows how to handle challenging client situations. That's why Victoria has been honored as the CAREGiver of the Month at owner Stephanie Niles' award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Victoria.
Two frequently recurring scenarios keep Victoria on her toes but are not overwhelming. Check out Victoria's solutions for situations that are generated by clients' anxieties and dementia behavior:
Victoria's solution: "I show her the current weather radar on my phone. Much of the time, I remind her, the storms miss us or become rainstorms by the time they reach us, I remember saying once: 'It's 100 miles away. We're going to be just fine.' I try to bring a voice of reassurance because it is very real fear that's fueled by dementia."
Victoria's solution: "I work hard on refocusing. I've told him we do not have any airline tickets or money to buy them and will have to stay home. Instead, I've taken him on little trips, to the Dairy Queen, for instance. On another day, we drove around town at his request while trying to find a statue of Albert Einstein's head. I later learned he had viewed the statue in Panama City, Panama, on his trips there. He was so adamant on one occasion about going to the airport, I had to call his brother to chat with him."
Victoria, who had worked as a home health hospice caregiver in Jonesboro, Arkansas, for several years, found Home Instead Senior Care after moving to Victoria last year to live with her elderly mother and joined the franchise in September. "I learned a lot in the hospice job and knew I could take that knowledge with me to my next position," Victoria said.
In addition, Victoria said her franchise's training has reaped many benefits, including its ongoing education programs. Victoria completed the Home Instead Senior Care network's Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program. CAREGivers who are trained in the CARE program have a passion to work with Alzheimer's clients and receive ongoing training and testing to enhance their already outstanding care techniques. Victoria's patience and compassion always have been on display.
"The Home Instead Alzheimer's training was very helpful. I didn't know all the techniques to address the behaviors and am still learning," Victoria admitted. "It can be hard to work with dementia clients and redirect them, but the more you get to know them, the easier it gets. When it comes down to dealing with a completely different behavior, you just try something else or maybe step away to hit 'reset.' "
Victoria, always respectful to all clients, marvels at the clients she has assisted. "All of them have led such productive and interesting lives. There are Texas A&M graduates who have been successful in all walks of life, including engineering, business, entrepreneurship. One client worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, and his team discovered the third-largest oil reserve in North America," Victoria explained, with a tone of wonderment and pride.
"These clients functioned at a high level and never were dependent on anyone until now. It is hard for them, and would be hard for anyone. I want to keep their dignity and independence intact. With some, you can feel fear turn to anxiety and then to anger because they no longer can process their emotions and express them as they did before dementia. The 'filter' can come off."
Victoria juggles other responsibilities and commitments because she has been the family caregiver for her mother since July 2016. "She does not have dementia, but there are other challenges. Mom went to the hospital during the Thanksgiving week with a serious illness and then to a nursing home for rehabilitation. My mother was on dialysis for a period, both during her hospital stay and for a brief time in the nursing home, but she does not require dialysis now.
She left skilled care in May and is doing well.
She is on a walker and can get around. Mom still has exercises to do at home, although she no longer has a physical therapist to push her. I am it. She is never happy to do exercises," Victoria said with a laugh. "I kid her about being her 'free' caregiver."
Victoria is happy to be both – a Home Instead CAREGiver and a family caregiver.
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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