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January 18, 2021

Family Caregiving Prepared Jill for Job

Home Instead Caregiver of the Month Jill
During the five months CAREGiver of the Month Jill Mahoney has worked for Home Instead® of Boulder, Broomfield and northwest Adams Counties, she has translated the pain of losing her mother into empathy and consolation to comfort a client after the loss of his loved one.

“Helping my mother resulted in a lot of senior-care experience. Her death was a huge loss for me, and I’m still dealing with it,” said Jill, who took care of her mother for her final eight years while holding down a fulltime dairy job. Her mother died in 2018 at age 80, and Jill later quit her job to join Home Instead on July 30, 2020. Michael Lammers owns the award-winning franchise that is based in Louisville, Colorado. Before Jill went to work for Home Instead, she also took care of two friends’ elderly mothers by helping them with showering.

“After helping my mother, I thought to myself, ‘I enjoyed taking care of her. I’ll try health care as a job.’ I put my resume online, and Home Instead and another agency called. That was a huge step because I was leaving a job I’d had for 13 years. As a family caregiver, I now take care of my stepdad. He and my mother were married for more than 40 years.”

Jill went to live with her mother after she suffered a broken back in a fall in the shower. Before her injury, Jill’s mother had been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis since her late 40s and also had COPD. After the shower fall, her mother suffered a broken hip and later injured her other hip and a shoulder. As a result of the surgeries, she had rods in her hips and a plate in her shoulder.

“She was wheelchair-bound for the last year of her life. We had walkie-talkies so she could call me from her bedroom during the night. There was a lot to do, and I never left her side, even in at the rehabilitation facility. I kept a close eye on her care. I was like a pit bull because Mom was everything in the world to me. I was ready to pounce if she did not receive good care,” Jill said.

With Home Instead, Jill also feels deeply about her clients. “I must be there for them. I have a good feeling in my heart, knowing they are receiving the best care possible. Helping seniors, the entire care picture with physical assistance and companionship, means a lot to me,” Jill said. “The Home Instead training was helpful. I knew how to do some things. But, for instance, I had never used a gait belt. Mom was 90 pounds, and I could easily move her. There was reaffirmation with some techniques, so that gave me confidence.”

Now with four regular clients, Jill said: “All clients are amazing and have their unique stories. All of the needs are really so different. I don’t view any of them as ‘challenging.’ ”

Jill’s first client is a man who became a widower two years ago. “It is a sad story. His wife was living at home despite having suffered a stroke 10 years ago and experiencing a form of aphasia that did not allow her to speak. Her husband took such good care of her. They had a wonderful marriage. As he speaks, it’s easy to see how devoted he was to her. Despite her aphasia, he knew what she tried to communicate. Shortly before she passed away, she told him she loved him. They were on an outing when she died unexpectedly. When he told me the story of her death, I was pulling up tissues,” Jill explained.

“As he talked about her, he often would cry, and I’d cry, too. I’d gone through the same situation with the loss of my mother. It was good therapy for us. When the weather is good, I take him to the cemetery where her ashes are interred. That is very important to my client, his No. 1 priority. Now, as we talk about his memories, he smiles more than he cries. With the way he describes her, it is as if I know her well. I see progress as he processes his sorrow. He said, ‘I don’t know what I’d do without you.’ I sometimes think, ‘What would I do without him?’ ”

Jill praised the client’s family as “an amazing group of people” and added: “They stepped up and are active with his care. I’m so happy he has such good support. In the way his daughters help him, it reminds me of what I did for my mother. His daughters make me feel as if I am part of their family. His daughters come in Friday, Saturday and Tuesday, while another CAREGiver is there Thursdays. I help him on the three other days.”

Jill also helped another couple. “The wife had a very gentle, kind demeanor in the way she talked, and I instantly thought of my mother. There were some things about my client that reminded me of Mom. She told me she liked the way I brushed her hair just as my mother did. Neither one wanted me to stop brushing. The client also smiled when I came in the door, and it melted my heart,” Jill said.

Jill sees herself continuing as a CAREGiver. “I think about the seniors who don’t have families, and I think about my mom. It keeps me motivated. The hardest part is losing them. I don’t deal with death very well. One client keeps me on my toes. I love what I do, and he sees that. The other clients are great – they all have different personalities,” Jill said.

Recruitment and Engagement Coordinator Rianne Matthews said: “Jill gets glowing praise from her clients. When we discussed Jill as a candidate for CAREGiver of the Month, it seemed as if everyone had an example of a time when a client or family member made a point to say how warm, caring and attentive she is. I recently took a call from a client, and he seemed almost at a loss for words when he said, ‘My CAREGivers are both great, but Jill… well.. she’s just fantastic. Just fantastic.’ ”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (720) 890-0184 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.