A Day in the Life of a Caregiver

A very personal story written by our scheduler Amanda Steben-Allard, who prior to joining our office team worked as a caregiver.
By Home Care Assistance - January 29, 2019

Home Care Assistance Montreal is the only home care solution offering an innovative, science-based approach to aging. We elevate the standard of care for seniors everywhere. In “Care Diaries”, we feature heartfelt stories from Canadians telling their current life stories about the reality of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

All of our mornings start the same. When I arrive, as I have been doing for several months now, she does not recognize me, but accepts me. I like to be comforted by the thought that it’s because somewhere in her brain, she knows who I am, but because of the Alzheimer’s, she can no longer put it all together. I wheel her to the bathroom where we brush her hair in front of the mirror, apply her ruby red lipstick and give her a few spritz of her favourite perfume

The weather forecast calls for sun and high temperatures. Mrs’ loves to go out. I have prepared my lunch and an extra chicken salad sandwich for her.  I have packed a bag of chips along with a surprise. Spruce beer. She mentioned to me that she used to drink it every day when she was younger. I tell her that we are going for a walk to spend the day in the sun. On our walk she asks me several times where we are going. I tell her kindly each time, that we are going to the park. The park that we have spent almost every day at.  She makes the same comment about the steep hill, reaches her hand out to touch the same flowers, scuffs at the same bumps in the side walk, as if it were the first time every time. We find a spot where the sun is shining through the trees, shining down on her like a spot light. I park her wheelchair there, so that she has a nice view of the pond and the ducks. She eats little pieces of the sandwich that I have made for her. She takes few bites then gives it back to me. I know she is hungry though because she always refuses to eat breakfast. I let her forget that she has given me back the sandwich and offer her more as if it was the first time I was offering it to her. I do this a couple more times until she has eaten the whole thing. A little trick I learned when I first started to work with her. She refused to eat her lunch, but kept mentioning she was starving when she would see me eat and be reminded that she was hungry.

She spends the afternoon soaking in the sun. Her eyes are closed and she hums songs and smiles. This is where she is happiest, this is where she remembers. Sometimes she sits like this for hours and doesn’t say anything. And sometimes she shares stories of when she was younger. She tells me about her children. About her husband. About her travels. About anything that comes to mind in that moment. I learn a little more about her every day. Today was a silent day, so I sit with her reading my book and just enjoying her presence.

By the end of the day, she’s very tired. I say goodbye after dinner and she wishes me a goodnight and tells me she hopes to see me again tomorrow, and I am always happy to tell her that she will.

It takes a special kind of person to be a caregiver. It takes patience and compassion. You don’t know what each day will hold. Some days are smooth, some days are hard and some days break your heart. But you get up each day and go to work regardless because our patients need us and depend on us. There’s no better feeling than knowing that you are changing someone’s life.

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