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February 14, 2022

CAREGiver of the Month - February 2022

Written By: Brian Lahm for Home Instead of Waterford
Lisa Johnson CGOTM February 2022 COMP

Lisa Deals Deftly With Client’s Questions

Twice-honored Home Instead® CAREGiver of the Month Lisa has been asked to explain one of mankind’s eternal questions: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Specifically with a recently widowed dementia client, Lisa first dealt with the question of “Why is my husband gone?” and later, “Why did my brother have to die?”

For 68 years, Lisa’s long-time client had been married to a sweet, lovely man who did everything to please her. Lisa pointed out: “This is a new stage of life for my client, his widow. She’d never been alone for nearly 70 years until now. I want to support her and keep her at home. I need to be consistent for her, a steady influence. That’s not only a goal, but my mission.”

Lisa further explained: “She is a dear lady who is upset because she forgot her husband was suffering. I have explained often, but she doesn’t remember when he was carried out and later died around Thanksgiving. As is the case with dementia, she doesn’t realize that she forgets.”

Lisa was making strides emotionally with the client until her younger brother then died suddenly. Lisa sighed and said, “That broke her heart. It was too much. She got hit with the double whammy. I deal with the mood swings by refocusing or redirecting her. I am her reassurance. We fight that depression. They can go through mood changes with dementia and setbacks.”

While the dementia causes a loss of short-term memory and plays a part in a person’s emotional state, Lisa’s client is still somewhat analytical. Sometimes a conversation starts with the client wanting “to go where her husband and brother are.” Lovingly redirecting with reasoning, Lisa said: “We talk about God. I tell her that her husband’s date of passing was in God’s book, and her husband had left on his appointed day. I explain that her day has not yet come. God has another day in mind for her, and she has got to move ahead with her life until that unknown day comes. I assure her, ‘You’ll go when God calls.’ ”

Since the client is in relatively good health, Lisa tries to get her out of the home by encouraging her and family members. “Isolation is bad, and she leans toward isolation. Changes of scenery do her well. One day, after COVID-19 restrictions had eased last year, she ate a whole meal with her daughter at a restaurant despite being a picky eater who wants only peanut butter. Eating a whole meal was the result of the social aspect of the situation. She was so involved with conversation that she didn’t keep track of what she was eating,” said Lisa, a professional senior-care veteran.

Clients and their families began to benefit from Lisa’s valuable senior-care background after she joined owner Glenna Yaroch’s award-winning North Oakland County franchise in June 2019. The office, in Waterford, also serves Clarkston, West Bloomfield and 14 other communities. Lisa was honored as CAREGiver of the Month in December 2019 and again in February 2022.

Lisa has been a part of the aging community for many years in Kansas and North Carolina, and most recently in Michigan. As a 2000 graduate from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, Lisa earned a bachelor’s degree in human services with a specialty in geriatrics. She also has an associate degree in applied science. “I’ve always been drawn to older people. It started as a young child with my great-grandmother,” Lisa explained.

As a college student, Lisa served in the Kansas Department of Aging’s ombudsman office in a pilot program for volunteers. At the time, there was only one ombudsman for the entire state. Lisa also served on a State of Kansas ad-hoc committee that studied seniors’ oral health issues. In all, Lisa accumulated 1,000 internship hours. Her internships related to seniors in many different areas, including an area agency on aging. Lisa also served as a board member of a senior center.

With her education and experience, Lisa went into the specialized field of senior activities. “Activities help with  socialization and get residents out of their rooms in care communities,” Lisa said. “I am familiar with all senior community assets and programs. I was plugged into everything, including available services and holistic care.”

When Lisa was a memory-care coordinator at a North Carolina care community, she came in contact with Home Instead CAREGivers. Those meetings sparked Lisa’s interest when she later moved to Michigan to live with her parents. “While I am an in-home family caregiver – except for four winter months when my parents are in Florida – I haven’t always had to provide them with the kind of detailed care as I do as a Home Instead CAREGiver.”

Looking to the future, Lisa said: “I am content and happy to be with my Home Instead clients. Would I make a change? Maybe to another Home Instead franchise in another state for family considerations. My daughter is married and lives in North Carolina, and when she has a baby, things could change for me. My son is in California, and I still have parents to help, so Florida is possible. I don’t see going back to a care community to work. I am pulled in many directions because of family, but Home Instead has been a good situation since 2019.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (248) 886-7300 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.