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June 25, 2021

CAREGiver of the Month - June 2021

Written By: Brian Lahm for Home Instead of Waterford
Lisa Maresh CGOTM June 2021 COMP

Senior Care Role Expands for Lisa

Merriam-Webster’s definition of labor of love

“A labor voluntarily undertaken or performed without consideration of any benefit or reward”

Twice-honored Home Instead® CAREGiver of the Month Lisa has added another title: family caregiver. In that role, she might well be considered “the Perpetual Daughter Caregiver of the Day.” As much as she loves and embraces her position as an award-winning professional senior-care specialist with Home Instead of North Oakland County in Waterford, Lisa has seized the opportunity to assist someone close to her. 

“I have been very busy as I am now caring for my father as well as my clients. It is indeed a labor of love,” said Lisa, who has been warmly adopted as a de facto family member by numerous clients since she started with Home Instead in November 2015. Lisa was first selected as the franchise’s CAREGiver of the Month in March 2018 and again has entered the Home Instead spotlight as CAREGiver of the Month for July 2021.

Gail M. Wilk, general manager for the regional Home Instead franchise that serves seniors in 17 other communities in addition to Waterford, showed her admiration for Lisa. Gail said: “Lisa and two of her colleagues who we have honored this summer are the silent heroes who go to work, always give above and beyond and are depended on by the clients who love and trust them. It is fitting that we have honored Lisa and her CAREGiver teammates.”

While Lisa is sure to collect a fresh set of memories in the coming months and years, she smiles broadly when she recalls some epic times with former clients and their families. She often remembers the spunky spirit of a 95-year-old client who has been gone for more than three years. Lisa emphasized, “She was a great client. I loved her.”

The late client often bristled at the thought of medication reminders. “I started calling them ‘vitamins,’ ” Lisa noted. “She would counter with, ‘I haven’t taken vitamins in 90 years, and I’m not going to start again.’ One day, she threatened to call the police because I mentioned taking them. I handed her the phone and said, ‘Go ahead and call. I am married to the police chief.’ (Lisa isn’t.) She gave back the phone and said she’d take the ‘vitamins.’ In other instances, I’d bargain to get her to smile. She’d say, ‘I’ll give you a smile if you give me a hug.’ ”

For a year and three months, Lisa was a member of the late client’s CAREGiver team. “After she passed, I told the family, ‘Well, she never got rid of me.’ They laughed,” Lisa said with a chuckle. “As time passed, I understood her and could feel her frustration of not knowing how to do simple tasks because she suffered from dementia. It was impactful for me to refocus her and turn around a bad mood.”

Lisa added: “I had to learn everything about her to take care of her. In turn, she taught me a lot. In the big picture of life, I learned so much. From a senior’s eyes, there’s a lot of rich perspective because they’ve lived through about everything you can possibly face. It is great to listen about how they handled a lifetime of things. They are full of knowledge and wisdom, so I listened. There’s an old saying: ‘You’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason. You should listen twice as much as you talk.’ Yes, I listened.”

Nearly six years ago. Lisa had seen a Home Instead newspaper ad and thought, “Maybe that’s what I want to do.” All four of her family’s children were still in school when Lisa ended her longtime role as a stay-at-home mom. “The job is flexible, which is what I need because I am still busy with kids even though they are older. At that time, I also needed to have my Thursdays off to look after my dad,” said Lisa, who had taken some medical classes over the years.

Lisa said she’s “very happy” to be a CAREGiver and gave several reasons:

  • “This is the ultimate act of love for someone, that you would take care of them.”
  • “It is a fulfilling and impactful job because every day I make a difference.”
  • “I receive my rewards because I feel good about making someone else’s day better.”
  • “This is an extension of what I learned from my parents. When I was growing up, we were taught to do for others, to make sacrifice for others.”

Lisa also pointed out there is no “how-to” book that fits every situation of being a CAREGiver.  “You are in uncharted territory as each day unfolds,” Lisa said. “Dementia can be difficult for the clients because of the confusion and frustration. I may never get a thank-you, but if I get a laugh and some stories, it makes my day. I give them my love and try to raise their spirits.”

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.