After Helping Her Parents, Anna Became a CAREGiver
Anna Robinson and her siblings never forgot when a professional caregiver helped their elderly father, a widower, while he was living in California. The assistance made such an impression that Anna went to work as a Home Instead® CAREGiver for the Denver South franchise in 2011, one year before her 96-year-old father’s passing.
“I saw the Home Instead newspaper advertisement,” Anna recalled, “and not only did I think it was something I would like to do, but I thought it would be my way of ‘paying it forward’ for someone else’s senior loved one. I was so impressed with how the caregiver helped Dad. I truly felt it would be my way of helping someone else since I wasn’t able to do more for my own dad because of the distance, and my family and work circumstances.”
While being honored as her Home Instead franchise’s CAREGiver of the Month after just over 10 years with the award-winning company, Anna reflected how her life was changed forever by her elderly parents’ medical challenges.
Anna’s mother was 78 in 2004 when she and Anna’s father traveled from California to the Denver area to visit Anna and her family. Anna’s mother unexpectedly suffered a stroke that affected the right side of her body. She spent about three weeks in a nursing home before she and Anna’s father could return to California.
“Mom was discharged three days before their flight. During that time, I was responsible for her care, including helping her with activities of daily living and medications. Once Mom got home, she survived only three days before she passed away from a heart attack,” Anna explained.
“In addition to our concern for Mom, Dad needed my help while Mom was in the nursing home. Dad had personal-care problems and balance issues, so he needed a cane or somebody to help him. Sometimes Dad even needed a wheelchair, especially when traveling to and from airports. Once Mom passed away, Dad lived for about seven more years during which he progressively declined mentally and physically. My older sister and brothers, who also lived in California, helped him as much as they could. It became increasingly difficult to help Dad because everybody had jobs, so we enlisted the professional caregiver for day hours.”
Anna added: “When I found Home Instead in the ad, I was working part time with the City of Aurora and had been recently divorced with a school-age daughter at home. I thought being a Home Instead CAREGiver was something I could do since I had cared for both parents. Before joining Home Instead, I did not have any professional senior-care experience. My professional background was mainly as an administrative assistant, which I’ve done since I was 18. I’m 58, so basically I’d done that work for about 40 years. During these past 10 years, I’ve had great training through Home Instead.”
Since May 2011, Anna has worked with many clients, easily more than 50. She has assisted some on an ongoing basis, and she has helped others as a fill-in because of vacations, illnesses or other “call-outs.” Anna has had as many as three regular clients at one time.
Explaining her job satisfaction, Anna said: “It goes back to how I’m able to assist someone else’s senior loved one or by simply providing companionship. I enjoy being with the clients and listening to their stories when they’re able to remember them. It’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had, yet being a CAREGiver also is one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. The job can be hard from the standpoint that it’s difficult to see the physical and mental decline and how sometimes the clients react to those changes. The job is rewarding from the standpoint that I leave a shift feeling as if I made a difference in a client’s day, even if it’s just a small one.”
Anna has had a number of memorable clients and precious memories of helping them.
“With one woman, we definitely had a connection. Even today, I think about her and miss her tremendously. Her daughter texts me occasionally and asks how I’m doing. Her mother was blind because of macular degeneration, and we went for walks on nice days. Sometimes we went grocery shopping. She still remembered how to get to places and give me directions,” Anna said.
“I loved listening to the client’s stories about her life in war-torn Poland and how she and her Jewish family were treated by the Nazis. They escaped with the aid of aunts and others, and they made it to England. Later, they traveled to New York. Eventually, she and her husband came to Colorado. Her husband died a couple of months before I began assisting her,” Anna recalled.
“One of our favorite pastimes was listening to audio books, and one of our favorite stories was ‘Water for Elephants.’ We’d listen, and she’d stop the tape and make comments about what was happening. It became a movie in 2011. To this day, whenever I watch it, it reminds me of my precious client and our time together.”
All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (303) 389-5700 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.