Professional caregivers play a crucial role in the lives of those they care for, yet they don’t often get the public recognition they deserve. To highlight their important work, we’re introducing you to some of TheKey’s best caregivers. Their training, skills, and dedication to those they care for make them standouts in the field. You’ll learn what drew them to caregiving, the greatest lessons they’ve learned, and how they can help you and your loved one.
Meet Angela Morrison of Frederick, Maryland
“Every family lucky enough to work with Angela always tells us the same thing: ‘We love her! We want more hours with her!’” says Alicia Thompson, TheKey’s regional caregiving recruiting team manager who hired Angela almost three years ago.
Angela, who has been a professional caregiver for more than 40 years, feels like she was born to help others. The second of five kids, she “took over caring for the family” while growing up, because her mother was often ill. “Being needed at a young age didn’t feel like a sacrifice,” Angela says. “It has always been natural for me to put others’ needs first.”
At age 17, Angela started working at a local nursing home. While she took some time off when her four children were young, she “can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a caregiver,” she says. “I love working with older people.”
Here, Angela shares the top four lessons she’s learned from experience, plus what every family should know before starting in-home care.
1. Listen and Observe Before You Act
Angela often works with care recipients who have dementia. “Families appreciate her ability to think outside the box,” Thompson says. “If the client is upset, she will get them to calm down.”
For instance, one older man she worked with sometimes tried to go outside in the evening. He kept saying he wanted to go home. His daughter later shared that he had grown up in a house nearby, but Angela didn’t know that at the time. “I couldn’t figure out why he was so upset,” she says. In an effort to help, “I said to him, ‘Let’s go for a ride.’” She drove him around for an hour, and by the time they got back, he was calm and ready to go to bed. “You just have to listen to what people are saying,” Angela says.
2. Treat Older Adults How You Would Want to Be Treated
“You must have empathy, lots of patience, and respect for the person,” Angela says. “You need to always think, ‘How will I want to be treated at their age?’ Respect goes a long way.”
3. Companionship Is a Two-Way Street
“I find it so easy to bond with the people I care for,” Angela says. “Every case becomes personal to me, and I enjoy the companionship as much as they do.” One care recipient has a type of dementia, “and she can put a 500-piece puzzle together better than I can and she beats me at every card game!” Angela says.
4. Consider the Entire Family
“Angela really embraces the whole family,” Thompson says. “She gives them breaks from family caregiving. She helps them with household duties that are not in her care plan.”
For instance, when one care recipient would nap or rest, Angela went to the kitchen and did dishes or folded the family’s laundry. “She always engages and stays busy.”
“I’m there to help the care recipient and the family,” Angela says. “I want them to be able to keep their loved ones at home.”
What Angela Wants Families to Know
“I think the one thing a family needs to do when we first start is stand back and give us time to bond with their loved one,” Angela says. If the family members keep coming in to take care of their loved one, that’s who the person will want to take care of them. “But if the family shows they can trust me, then their loved one will also feel they can trust me.”
The Ultimate Reward
When Angela walks into a care recipient’s home and they are happy to see her, “that is the reward for what I do,” she says. “The most fulfilling part of this job is knowing I am needed and appreciated.”
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