“I had a stroke 13 years ago,” says Vicky-Lee Layden. “When I returned to my accounting job, I was making a lot of mistakes, which had never happened before. I went to a doctor and he found out that I have some short-term memory loss. I learned that I would not be able to do accounting anymore. At first, I felt sorry for myself. Then I decided to find a job that allows me to help others.”
That decision led Layden to begin her career as a professional caregiver. In October 2017, she received the Caregiver of the Year award from the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA). Layden said she was shocked to hear the news. “Why am I winning this?” Layden asked. “I am just doing what I love, and I am being rewarded for it?”
Dedicated Home Care Aide Receives Prestigious Honor
The HCAOA represents more than 2,500 home care agencies across the United States. Each year, the organization’s members submit nominations of outstanding caregivers to compete for the Caregiver of the Year award. One caregiver is selected each year as the national winner for his/her extraordinary commitment to delivering quality care to clients.
Approximately 100 caregivers were nominated in 2017, and Vicky-Lee Layden from Right at Home of Sarasota, Florida, received the recognition.
Caring for Alzheimer’s/Dementia Patients
One of Layden’s clients is the mother of her employer, Michael Juceam. Mrs. Juceam suffers from frontal lobe dementia. She has no short-term memory and can no longer walk without a walker and someone by her side. Mrs. Juceam’s behavioral filters are nonexistent, and she is depressed. As a result, Mrs. Juceam uses profanity, is physically and verbally abusive, throws things, cries, has panic attacks, and accuses people of misconduct that never occurred.
A dozen other caregivers tried to work with Mrs. Juceam, but found it difficult to do so and asked to be removed from the case. Layden, however, understood that Mrs. Juceam needed consistency and a calm approach. Layden listened closely to Mrs. Juceam. When Mrs. Juceam became physical, Layden watched how her client moved, including Mrs. Juceam’s body position, to come up with ideas on how to handle the situation.
“Patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s remember things that occurred in the past very well,” says Layden. “It’s the current things that they have trouble remembering.” Layden thinks that not remembering recent events causes agitation and aggression in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. “Talk to dementia patients about the past — how they grew up, where they lived and what their parents did,” Layden says. “Patients will feel safer with you because you are talking about things they remember. It is also a good idea to not fight with patients. Wait until they are in a better mood to do a task. You don’t want to try to change their mind. Refocusing their attention is a better strategy.”