Hi, it’s me — Christine. I told you last time that I was using some of the skills I learned in Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) training in my new career as a caregiver entrepreneur with CGUSA. I’ve gotta tell you, it’s been going great so far!
Not that caring for John, 72, with Alzheimer’s isn’t a challenge. It definitely is, but nothing I can’t handle. And I know I am really making a difference in not only his life, but his wife Anna’s, 65, whom I told you last time, has high blood pressure and diabetes and was becoming exhausted under the stress of trying to take care of both her health and John’s.
Then there’s the relief I’ve been giving to Mary Jane. She’s John and Anna’s daughter — I am guessing she is about 45 years old. Mary Jane has a really full plate with a high-powered managerial job, a husband, three kids and two dogs. She lives two hours away and had been commuting back and forth between her family and her parents’ every weekend for three months, until I started working with them.
Mary Jane is the one who actually hired me through the CGUSA website, and now she, along with her five brothers and sisters all living in other states, are all chipping in to pay the cost of my coming in to John and Anna’s home to help out. I mentioned last time I am going over there twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 am to 2 pm., and getting paid $18 an hour. This is the rate I chose and the hours I picked from the git-go, so I am able to get my kids up (Lucas, 6 , and Mia, almost 2), give them breakfast, and drop them off to school or – in Mia’s case — to daycare or my Mom’s
But more about John. He really is a sweet man, but he gets a little flustered and upset with himself at times because he can’t remember things like he used to. You know, little stuff like where he put his reading glasses, or his coffee cup, or the different states he and Anna’s six children live in. When that happens, he just kind of gets frazzled and a little upset, but it doesn’t take much to get him calmed down, because I locate these items pretty easily (he isn’t moving around that much) and I just tell him that son Jack moved to Illinois from Ohio only a few months back, so it’s not that easy to remember where Jack is living now – no big deal. 🙂
John and I also “connect” through humor. He knows he has Alzheimer’s – he remembers it some of the time, not all, of course. Sometimes, when he has his good, lucid moments, he makes jokes about his condition. I just smile. Then he tells me an old joke off the top of his head. Sure, some of them are corny, and he has repeated several of them more than once, but the jokes lift John’s mood and get him engaged and thinking, so I always giggle no matter how many times I’ve heard the punchline. And, actually, some of the jokes really are funny. “Have you heard the one about the three Irishmen in the bar who…”
Wait a minute, I’m getting too carried away with this! 🙂
John’s Alzheimer’s is in the early stages. Mary Jane told me he was only diagnosed less than a year ago, after a scary episode where he couldn’t find his way back home after taking a walk. Like most patients in the beginning of the disease, John’s long-term memory is still pretty good. He can talk about the “old days,” back in the ‘50s all day long. It’s his short-term memory — things that happened in the last few days, or weeks — that are giving him trouble.
Right now, because I am so new as a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant), I told you before I wanted to kind of ease my way into my new caregiver career, as opposed to just jumping in feet first; (I’m the same way when I get in a swimming pool; I creep slowly into the deeper water, so I can get used to it. No cannonballs for me!) But now that I have been working with this family, I know they have other needs that require more skilled medical training.
Pretty soon, I am going to upgrade my services to match what my CNA certification provides, for example, giving John a bath, working with his physician or a Registered Nurse (RN) manager to provide some kind of specialized Alzheimer’s memory care stimulation. Once my current contract term is over and up for renewal, I’ll be asking for a raise to $20 an hour for these additional services. Mary Jane has already said she is more than happy to pay it.
Currently, I am doing mostly companion-type, non-medical work, such as light housekeeping, meal prep, and making sure John takes his meds and “stays out of trouble” while Anna lies down to rest, goes to a doctor’s appointment, or just meets her lady friends for lunch once in a while.
Anna says over and over how much she appreciates me being there. When I arrived for my first visit three weeks ago, she was so worried and stressed out. Every little thing seemed to upset her. Now, I am seeing her smile a lot more, and able to relax. Knowing I have something to do with giving her peace of mind makes me feel really good about my work.
Speaking of work, I am still a manager at the fast-food place I talked about earlier. I mostly work early evening/night shifts and Daniel watches the kids. It’s a little much right now, balancing two jobs and family life, but since this is going so well with John and Anna, I plan to give notice in the next couple weeks at the restaurant so I can expand my caregiver hours to maybe 16 hours a week.
Did I mention the CaregiverUSA apps and website payment system are really awesome? It is so easy – here’s how it works. The care seeker and caregiver agree on a certain amount to be paid during a given time period, say a week, and then the care seeker pays the entire amount for the week upfront, ( i.e. escrows it ) via a third party credit card handling company affiliated with the CGUSA website. The caregiver (that would be me) can then log on and see the money in there. Once the care seeker gives the official OK, the money is transferred to the caregiver’s bank account, minus the 10 percent service charge I mentioned in my last post. In truth, CGUSA gets paid less than 2% of these payment transactions, the bulk goes to the bank handling escrow and payment.
Anyway… considering how much I am liking my new caregiver role in the home healthcare industry, I feel inspired to go for my Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification at some point and move up in my career. I may even decide to add a second family (besides John and Anna) depending on what is going on with my own family and their schedules. Seriously, joining the CaregiverUSA network is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far, other than marrying Daniel and giving birth to Lucas and Mia of course!
If you are looking for a career that has flexibility in hours, and can even allow you to set your own price for services, I totally encourage you to explore CaregiverUSA. With a website like this that can help you find work (and get paid) so easily, you can have more work-home life balance and feel great about truly being able to help other people as well.