Northern Shenandoah Valley (Change Location)

Feb 15, 2022

Angela ‘Won’t Give Up’ Her Very First Client

Written By: Brian Lahm
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The 90-something widow was CAREGiver of the Month Angela McCauley’s first client at Home Instead® of Winchester in September 2020. It is an arrangement Angela hopes to keep as long as possible. “I will not give her up. She lives 40 minutes from my house, but that’s OK,” said Angela, who at first questioned whether things would work out with the client.

Angela explained: “Before I met her, I didn’t have any idea of what to expect. I did not know dementia could be that challenging. I kept thinking during my first time with her, ‘I can do this.’ I learned how to communicate with her, and we’ve learned to work around the challenges. My Home Instead training helped. Just getting her familiarized with me was a big thing. She recognizes me, but it took a long time. She did remember my name once.”

Angela has a huge heart for the client. “In terms of family members, she has a nephew and niece who call every now and then. But she is otherwise alone, having outlived everyone else in her generation. She just lost her sister, who lived in New Orleans. She had no children,” Angela said. She and four CAREGivers share nearly all of the duties for the 24/7 client. “In a way,” Angela said, “we CAREGivers are her family.”

Referring to their CAREGiver team, Angela said: “We work well together. The communication is good, and journaling is a key. Familiar faces are important. When she looks at us, she knows we are there to take care of her. She doesn’t like change. New CAREGivers who are needed as subs worry her. She asks, ‘Who are you? Why are you here?’ For that reason, we try to sub for each other on our CAREGiver team if we can.”

The client is colorful and has vivid stories from long ago. With a soft chuckle, Angela said: “She grew up in the Bronx, has a Bronx accent and sometimes she has a little bit of a New York City attitude – but she is a pleasant person. She’s like a history book; all of my clients are. She made $12 a week at a full-time job. When her aging parents were in need, she gave them $2 of that $12 salary each week. She rode the subways for 5 cents. You might hear the same story over and over, but that’s OK because I love to listen. She talks about her husband, a hard worker who went out to sea a lot with the Navy or Merchant Marines when they lived in New York.”

The client’s late husband is never far from her mind, Angela believes. There’s a big picture window in front of the client’s chair, where she almost always sits at night. The client sometimes sees things at night as she peers out the window. “She’ll say, ‘Did you see “him” go by?’ I wonder if she thinks she sees her late husband. I’ve never seen anything, and there aren’t any houses nearby because she lives on an acreage. She’s not afraid, and maybe it gives her a measure of comfort in some way,” Angela said.

Other things keep the client’s attention, including an indoor cat named “Sam” and two outdoor cats. “She loves animals. I take pictures of her outdoor cats for her because she doesn’t go outside. Sam has been with her a long time and might be 15 years old or older. He was there when her husband was there. We CAREGivers feed the cat for her, and she also makes sure we feed the outdoor cats,” Angela said.

Pets are a common thread among many seniors, Angela said. “Cell phone pictures of pets are favorites, and so are pictures of family members. I think the clients are curious about us CAREGivers and want to see the photos. I understand and oblige,” Angela said. “I am a people person who likes to meet people. It is in my nature to take care of people. I adore my clients and like being with them. I’ve become attached.”

Pointing out that working for Home Instead is her first professional senior-care job, Angela said: “My own elderly family caregiving was limited to a grandmother on whom I checked and helped when I was in middle school. My Home Instead caregiving experience got better and better as time went on, and it has been fulfilling.” She added: “I had stayed at home with our four children for 15 years. I am still watching my grand baby, so I usually work mornings and evenings for Home Instead. I found Home Instead online, and it was the first business to get back to me. I like to be able to keep moving and stay active.”

Angela has kept busy physical and emotionally, investing herself into each client’s life. “I’ve lost two clients to COVID-19. It’s a very hard thing. I still stay in contact with the families,” she said.

“I was the first CAREGiver for a male client. He was so sweet, but he was a little bit of a bear at the start because he didn’t think he needed help. It took a month for him to accept me. Then he came to expect me to come, and I always did. He had lost his wife, and when he talked about her, I cried. He missed her so much.”

She added: “One client wants to feel needed, and she likes to fold clothes. She also wants me to eat with her, so I take my own dinner and eat with her after I prepare her meal. Those shared experiences mean a lot to her. All of the clients are a little different, but it’s a wonderful job.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (540) 722-8750 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.

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