Caregiver Doris B. takes the expression “you’re as young as you feel” to heart with her outlook on life. Friends and co-workers often comment on how youthful she appears and Doris believes it’s because she’s always smiling. When asked what makes her smile so much, she simply replies, “Because I love my job and I love my life.”
Doris immigrated to California from the Philippines in 2010. It took 23 years for the paperwork to be completed that would allow Doris and her family to come to the United States and she immigrated with 13 of her family members. In her culture, family is very important. She finds immense value in maintaining close family ties and caring for one another. In the Philippines it is common for multiple generations to live together in one household. When she arrived in the US, these family values made becoming a caregiver a natural transition.
Doris had family caregiving experience as a mother and from taking care of her elderly father that made her a good fit for in-home caregiving. She well understood the needs of seniors, especially the importance of helping them keep active and receiving comfort, empathy, and patience from their caregivers. When Doris realized she was qualified for a career in caregiving, she applied to an in-home care agency and was hired right away.
Eventually, her path led her to a position at Alegre Home Care and she loves the synergy of the agency’s values and her own. The emphasis on community and connection is a familiar one in the Philippines and Doris feels that her culture prepared her to excel as a caregiver. Working with Alegre Home Care has enabled her to always have clients and to work steady, full-time hours. Due to her success as a caregiver, Doris has been able to afford two houses in Antioch, California, which is a dream come true for Doris and her family.
This is something that Doris wants people to know about caregiving — that it is both a vocation and comfortable employment. Doris has been able to provide a good life for her family by working as an in-home caregiver, including taking two vacations a year and always having regular employment. Owning a home also allows Doris to pursue her passions for gardening and interior design. In so many ways, caregiving has been a fulfilling career.
Plus, Doris loves her job. Caring for people is a big part of Doris’ personality and she feels grateful to earn a living doing something she loves. She says that the smile her clients give makes her job a joy.
Working Miracles as a Caregiver
Doris’ clients love her, as well. Some even call her a miracle worker because of how much clients thrive when they are with her. For instance, she had a client in hospice in the summer of 2019 who was given only a couple weeks to live. But it’s been almost a year later and the client is still going strong. Doris believes that it’s largely in part of the love, care, and attention that her client is still alive — and the food.
Doris has a passion for cooking and enjoys making Phillipino food for the seniors in her care. The happiness she feels when she is cooking and sharing food is contagious and her clients love it. A family of one of her clients appreciates the caregiving services their loved one receives so much that the family throws a caregiver appreciation luncheon every December. Last December, Doris outdid herself by offering to cook the meal and it was quite the spread of seafood paella, lumpia, salad, and dessert. She’s just such a joyful “giver” in every way and her wonderful caring demeanor makes her an instant favorite for any family she is placed with.
The biggest contribution Dories brings to any case she is placed with is her proactiveness in looking for ways to improve the quality of life for her clients. For instance, she suggested making use of her client’s living room as another point of activity instead of just the bedroom where the client tended to stay all day. Doris set it up so that soothing music could be played and made a spread of her client’s favorite books and magazines. Doris always alerts her Care Manager when there is a change in a client’s condition, which has resulted in updating mobility aids and retrofitting areas to be more accessible.
Gaining Experience in Dementia Care
When Doris first began her journey as a caregiver, she did not have much experience with seniors who had dementia. However, since this is a common health condition, Doris had to quickly learn how to provide dementia care services. She knew it would be a challenge to learn at first, but was grateful for the opportunity to gain wisdom and patience.
Doris discovered with her first client that it is important to have empathy and compassion when providing dementia care. She recalls a time when her client put her shoes in the microwave, forgot about it, and later thought Doris had put them there. Doris handled the situation by not getting upset. Instead, she told a joke and a story and found ways to help her client relate. The experience ended with both of them laughing in the kitchen. When it comes to dementia care, Doris has found that laughter is often the best medicine.
Now Doris has several years of experience caring for seniors who have dementia. Whenever she has questions, she reaches out to Alegre Home Care for support. It’s important to have compatibility with clients, since caregiving is a type of relationship and can be very personal. Alegre Home Care offers guidance and monthly training sessions to ensure that everything is harmonious.
Doris understands that there are always new things that come up in caregiving and it’s important to be prepared for challenges. This is why she always goes the extra mile when providing care. Her efforts produce great results. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with her with many clients and I know that when she is on my team, the client will have the absolute best care,” says Care Manager Roz Faugier. “I wish I could clone her.”
As Doris would say, that’s definitely something to smile about.