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November 15, 2021

Sister-in-Law Was Right: Theresa Is a Great CAREGiver

Caregiver of the Quarter Theresa

Theresa is a people-person extraordinaire who has many endearing traits. Friends, family and acquaintances watched as Theresa successfully managed a restaurant franchise for 30 years before a sore knee forced her retirement from the physically demanding work.

What would be Theresa’s next job?

A sister-in-law believed Theresa’s first calling was singing because of her beautiful voice and the fact that she had toured with choirs that performed in New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi and other cities. Theresa’s sister-in-law, a Home Instead® CAREGiver, also said Theresa’s “other calling” was senior care.

The sister-in-law had watched in amazement as Theresa accepted a desperate spur-of-the-moment request to serve as a private-duty caregiver for a dementia client who had challenging tendencies. The sister-in-law pointed out: “At first, the client talked badly to Theresa, but it turned out all right because Theresa flipped the client’s mood. Theresa understood how late-stage dementia impacts seniors. And more than 20 years ago, Theresa made weekend trips to Louisiana for six months to help take care of her ailing mother, who had cancer.”

After the private-duty dementia client died, Theresa’s sister-in-law suggested that Theresa apply at the Home Instead franchise owned by Mechelle and David Minter. The award-winning office serves central Houston, including Bellaire, The Heights, Medical Center, River Oaks and West University. Theresa joined Home Instead on Aug. 19, 2015, and was honored Nov. 3, 2021, as one of the franchise’s CAREGivers of the Quarter.

Not surprisingly, singing has played a part in Theresa’s soothing companionship care for some clients. “I sang ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ to a client at her request. We would sing it together, and sometimes she would hum the tune as I sang. Later, as her condition deteriorated, she would moan it. Those were precious moments because you knew where her heart was, especially because she no longer had the ability to vocalize her spirituality,” Theresa said.

Another client loved music and would constantly hum “You Are My Sunshine,” which generated Theresa’s idea for a great surprise for the client. Theresa explained: “A singer came to the care community once a month to lead a sing-along for the residents, and I asked him to dedicate ‘You Are My Sunshine’ to my client. Everyone sang it along with him. It was a good way to get her out of her room for subsequent sing-alongs. Then, sadly, COVID-19 came along, and it ended.”

Theresa sings the praises of working for Home Instead, and her face lit up one day when co-owner Mechelle Minter described Theresa’s body of work as “amazing.”

Theresa said: “I like the one-on-one focus of Home Instead’s care. I give my best to every client. My reward is the feeling of fulfillment from taking care of someone. I feel blessed to help a senior. Mechelle and the staff have been good to me, and they are great. They communicate well. The client matches click, but I always try to make them work out. I click with all of them. It is a blessing to interact with the clients. I want them to feel God’s presence when I work with them. Sometimes I am the first to call to take a client with whom I am unfamiliar.”

Theresa has memories of former and current clients that she’ll hold forever, and these are two of them:

  • “I helped a client for three years, and she died in September just days before she would’ve turned 100. It hurt; I got close to her and called her ‘Love Bug.’ I decorated her room for the holidays and her birthday, and sent pictures to her family. Whenever I decorated, I asked if she wanted to help, and she did. She said, ‘We make a good team.’ COVID-19 changed her life and the life of all seniors. Her son could no longer visit. I texted him updates.”
  • “My current client, 76, is in a rehabilitation facility. She has a 99-year-old mother who lives in a different nursing community. I bonded with the client on the first night, but it wasn’t an easy start. At first, she was giving me one-word answers. I drew her into a conversation by asking about her piano. At the end of the first night, she asked me not to go. I am kind with my reminders. When I begin my shift, I sing, ‘Walker alert, walker alert’ so she knows she needs to locate her walker. When I arrive, I let her know how beautiful she looks and how wonderful her smile is.”

Theresa called Home Instead “my lifesaver.” She said, “If it was not for Home Instead, I would just sit around the house. Home Instead gives me a reason to get out and share my life with seniors. I relate to my ‘senior saints.’ I will be happy being a CAREGiver until Home Instead tells me ‘No more.’ I hope that’s a ways off.”

All Home Instead CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (713) 403-2273 or apply online. For further information about Home Instead, visit our website.