The Work of a Caregiver

The Work of a Caregiver

GRAND LEDGE - Receiving care at home is an alternative option to going into a nursing home, or assisted living facility. However, it can be difficult to find caregivers, according to Wind Beneath You Wings Co-founder and President Meghan Pineda.

Madeleine Mulder and Doreen Bowerman have become close friends ever since Bowerman started caring for Mulder, however, Bowerman wasn't always a caregiver. In fact, she spent 37 years working as a legal secretary until one day she decided it wasn't for her anymore.

"I just got tired of it," Bowerman said.

Bowerman was introduced to the idea of becoming a caregiver from her neighbor.

"A neighbor actually told me 'you know they need caregivers, there's a real shortage of caregivers' and I thought 'well you know I would like that,'" Bowerman said.

After posting about her interest online, Bowerman was contacted by Wind Beneath Your Wings and has been working as a home health aid since the fall of 2016.

Wind Beneath Your Wings, is a direct-care agency providing in-home assistance to seniors and individuals with disabilities, according to Pineda. Pineda started Wind Beneath Your Wings with a friend after losing her job of 14 years working with Michigan's Medicaid help line.

"And for the first time, I really thought about what I was passionate about and what I wanted to spend my time doing, and I realized that I wanted to serve the seniors in my community," Pineda said. "I wanted to ensure that there was quality care, and compassionate and respectful care, and I felt that not only could I provide that, but I could help ensure that others provided that care as well."

But, Pineda said there is a quick turn-over rate when it comes to finding caregivers.

"So whenever anyone asks me if I'm hiring, I always say yes," Pineda said. "I am always looking for competent, compassionate and respectful caregivers."

And when it comes to being a caregiver, Bowerman said there are many different parts to the job.

"First you have to understand that, as Meghan told you, it goes the whole spectrum, you know, from playing ball like I do with Madeleine, or reading to her, to assisting with toileting, bathing, dressing. You do everything, and if you have an issue with doing that for someone, then this isn't for you," Bowerman said.

Pay also isn't the best for caregivers either, but Bowerman said that doesn't matter.

"Pay isn't the best because they haven't decided, nobody has ever decided that a caregiver should be paid well, but it doesn't matter," Bowerman said. "You know, I had all of those benefits when I worked for lawyers, you know the pension, the health care, everything, but I didn't like what I was doing."

And the work Bowerman has done for Mulder and her family has been unlike anything they had received before, according to Madeleine's mom, Cheryl.

"We just, with repeated request, we could not get additional hours, and they would say they were trying, but it really wasn't, and there is a shortage of care, but it just, it didn't feel as if the effort was there," Cheryl said.

The need to find a caregiver for the Mulder family came about in the summer of 2018 when Cheryl injured herself and needed help with caring for her daughter.

As for Mulder and Bowerman, Bowerman said they are looking forward to the warm weather so they can go for walks outside.

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