Elk Grove Village, Schaumburg (Change Location)

Apr 02, 2024

Teary Moment: Dementia Client Tells Ivy ‘I Love You’

Caregiver Ivy Martin

For nearly two years, Home Instead® Care Professional of the Month Ivy M. has been assisting a client whose dementia is nearing “end-stage.” At this challenging point in her life, the 84-year-old former elementary school teacher often struggles to find words if she responds at all to conversation. But one day, the client shocked Ivy with three words that left Ivy in tears. “She held my hand and said, ‘I love you,’ and it overwhelmed me, and I cried for a little bit,” Ivy said.

That occasion was a 180-degree shift from Ivy’s first experiences with the client, whom Ivy lovingly calls “Grandma.” Ivy recalled her difficulty in winning over “Grandma.” “It took a couple of months. She is very stubborn,” Ivy said. “Now when she sees me at the start of a shift, she cries and reaches out for me. I am verbal with her all of the time and just hope to get a few responses. I keep talking to keep her engaged.”

Ivy added: “Her expressions often will tell me everything I need to know, whether she’s happy, sad, surprised or whatever she is feeling. I understand her.”

“Grandma” lives in a memory-care unit where she has had several roommates, but they have passed away, and she now lives alone. Because Ivy has a fulltime day job, she is with “Grandma” on Wednesday nights and weekends. More than a year ago, as “Grandma” shifted from assisted living to the care community’s memory-care unit, the Home Instead Care Pro team dwindled to only Ivy at the family’s request. “I have spent holidays with her. Her stepdaughter often comes to visit, but she also travels. ‘Grandma’ has a son who lives quite a ways away,” Ivy explained.

Earlier this month, Ivy’s dad, who had been in declining health, went into cardiac arrest and died. “As a result,” Ivy said, “I did not see my client for eight days. When I told ‘Grandma’ why I was gone, she held my hand. She knew I was sad.” On a personal note, Ivy had been helping her dad as a family caregiver. “When I wasn’t working in my primary job or at my Home Instead shift, I’d come home and help take care of my dad at night,” said Ivy, who also has been raising her 14-year-old great-niece since she was 2½ weeks old.

Even with her busy family caregiving situation and already working full time as a school CNA with a special-needs student, Ivy was looking for a second job in spring of 2022 when she found Home Instead of Itasca. “My goal was to buy a house,” Ivy explained, “and Home Instead offered great job flexibility that suited my work schedule and life. Working in professional senior care was in my wheelhouse.”

Ivy, 49, has been a CNA since she was 16 years old, when she was a junior in high school. “I always have been taking care of someone as long as I can remember,” Ivy said. “I’ve worked in many different places: a clinic, a doctor’s office and as a surgical technician in a hospital operating room for six years. I have been in a school setting for the past six years.”

Ivy’s school requires her to be with the student Monday through Friday, usually from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. “When she takes the bus to and from her home, I accompany her,” Ivy said. When she asked about the possibility of fatigue because of her two jobs and family caregiving responsibilities, Ivy said: “Wednesday is a long day with both the school job and the Home Instead shift, but I usually bounce back after a good night of sleep.”

Ivy enjoys both jobs and the aspects of providing meaningful companionship with “Grandma.” Ivy offers a period of arts and crafts for her Home Instead client. “If she doesn’t feel like directly participating, I do the arts and crafts, including painting, and I ask her what color and glitter to use. I also eat with her, and we enjoy music, NASCAR racing on TV and ‘Family Feud’ with Steve Harvey. I am committed to ‘Grandma’ no matter where our journey takes us. But I also plan to remain with Home Instead after our time together ends.”

Home Instead Care Professionals are screened, trained and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (847) 690-9825 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website at www.homeinstead.com/location/205

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