CAREGiver of the Year Joe Hernandez has a
home, but he spends a good deal of the time at his client’s house, and he
believes that is where he’s at his best.
“My home might be a bit of a mess. But I work
hard at keeping everything in order at my client’s house. I sleep at my home,
but I feel as though I live about a mile away from it – at my client’s
acreage,” joked Joe, who assists the client and his family on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care® of Victoria.
Ask the client’s family, and they explain
that Joe was grafted into its clan more than 18 months ago. Joe’s client, once
a vibrant, strapping do-it-all cowboy businessman, is mostly confined to his
bed, recliner or wheelchair because of a dementia that continues to erode his
health and has robbed him of his ability to communicate. But Joe understands
him as well as anyone. “It’s his eyes. And when he gives me that smile,” Joe
explained, “it just makes my day.”
The client’s condition worsened earlier this
year, and he went into hospice in March.
“He has pretty much lost the strength in his
right arm, and his legs are so wobbly. I wish my client was more active, and we
could do more together like we used to. He used to walk through the home and
knock things around. I’d have to clean up after him, but I would prefer to have
that happening than his current condition because he gets very little exercise
now,” Joe said with a sigh. “He is basically bedridden, but I move him to a
wheelchair and then to a recliner on occasion. Because he still gets agitated,
I have to situate him in the recliner a certain way or he will hurt himself. It
can be a lot of work, but it is all worth it.”
Joe’s official shifts come Monday through
Friday. But on Saturday mornings out of a force of habit and a deep sense of
commitment, he checks his mail, grabs his McDonald’s coffee and heads over to
his client’s house to see if the family needs help because no one is usually
scheduled to come on the weekends. “On some Saturdays,” Joe said, “I have
gotten him out of bed because it is tough for others – his legs give out. I
also try to make myself available at other times if his wife calls when I am
not scheduled for a shift.”
It’s easy to see why the client’s family
cheered when Joe was selected as CAREGiver of the Year. Joe, who also was
honored for caregiving in 2015 after joining the franchise in 2013, was
surprised. “I think we probably ought to let everyone take a turn getting
honored because the others are good, too. I don’t know what exactly qualifies
me for being the CAREGiver of the Year because all I do is go to work and do
what I love. In my mind, there’s no extra effort involved because that is what
I feel I am supposed to do,” Joe said.
His client’s family knows and appreciates
Joe’s mantra. “I am not thinking of anything else other than helping them. As
long as my Mondays through Fridays are filled, I am happy,” Joe said. Ever the
quipster, Joe added: “I will keep working for Home Instead Senior Care until
the landlord stops charging rent and I get free groceries at the stores.”
There is no doubt that Joe is
driven by his Christian beliefs.
“Faith keeps me going. Without faith, what is
there? Faith is first,” he said. “Then you have to keep yourself in good shape.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t help anyone else. Then you take
care of others: Your wife, your family, your clients, your friends.
“Many people follow the same ultimately
futile rule of existence: ‘I, I, I and me, me, me.’ They leave no room for a
faith in God or anybody else but themselves. That is not our calling as humans.
We are called to serve the Lord and then serve others. Am I too outspoken about
my faith? Maybe so, but you have got to stand for something or you’ll fall for
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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