January 2019 – David Praises His Sisters’ Compassionate Examples
While he’s always been a great dad to his son and daughter, CAREGiver of the Month David Hastings humbly never thought of himself as having super caregiving qualities. However, David often has reflected on his four sisters and their huge hearts, and how they influenced him. “They were compassionate role models. Two were teachers and two were nurses,” David recalled.
David especially marveled at one sister, a teacher who succumbed to cancer. “She made an impact on a huge number of lives. The number of mourners at her service was gigantic. When you see what your sisters have done, it’s natural you sit up, take notice and want to try to do the same thing. With my sisters, I learned to value helping others and being compassionate,” said David, who moved from Massachusetts to Florida in January 2017 and joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Clearwater in June 2017. In February 2019, David was honored as CAREGiver of the Month by the award-winning franchise owned by Julie Castle.
Long before joining Home Instead Senior Care, David served as the primary family caregiver for his mother. “She had mobility issues and dementia. It made sense to move in with her because due to the 2008 recession, the corporation for whom I was working closed the research and development facility where I was employed, which left me unemployed. I was riding out the recession, and it was nice to live with Mom and help,” David explained. “She had old stories about the Great Depression and was really into genealogy. My mother played an important role in tracing our family roots back to 1636 in Massachusetts.”
Sadly, David’s mother passed away in 2015, and David pondered what to do next. “I have an degree in electrical engineering. But the unfortunate fact about my chosen field, information technology, is that if you’re out of the field for more than 18 months, that world likely has passed you by. I had been in the IT field for 20 years, 13 years with the division that closed in 2008, and another seven years doing contract work. All of a sudden, I was too old for a permanent position in the highly evolving field,” he said.
Moving to Florida to be closer to his children, David found Home Instead Senior Care at a job fair. “Home Instead is more age-friendly to older workers such as me. Seniors and people in need of help don’t care how old I am – they just know I am there to help them, and they and their family members are very appreciative. That is a great part of the fulfillment of being a CAREGiver,” David said. “In my former career, you were only as good as your last software update. I saw a lot of stressed people, chasing their tails for money.”
David is devoted to his only client, who has multiple sclerosis and is severely disabled. “His mom asked if I would be his sole CAREGiver and I agreed. He has lost his ability to speak. His speech therapist has had a great accomplishment because he has the client using a tablet with big icons to communicate. I can read his lips. I also know him so very well that I can anticipate his requests. I am patient, and that puts him at ease,” David said. “We need a set-up to help him socialize. His friends visit him but are embarrassed because they cannot understand him. Isolation is an issue.”
David looks for opportunities for socialization. “For example, I take him out for coffee, to visit relatives nearby and to church on every birthday. The church sings happy birthday to him. I go every day to assist him, and I have been his sole CAREGiver for 13 months. His mother and I are a good team, working together to do everything for him. He gets great care from his mother. Until recently, he had not been hospitalized in 10 years,” David said. “The medical people wonder if he should be placed on hospice, but he’s not and we’re going to continue to fight the good fight with him.”
David also is fighting the good fight on another front, and he has involved an elected official to go to bat for his client. David explained: “About 20 percent of the time, his medical-appointment transportation does not show up. Finally, after having that happen repeatedly and never having had it addressed, I called the state representative for our area and got his office involved. It helped for a while but has slipped back. I don’t blame the people — it is not a personal slight. The client often falls victim to the insurance and transportation companies’ business models. After one particularly difficult transportation situation where we enlisted a Good Samaritan for help, it enraged me that they treated anyone like that.”
No matter the circumstances, the client always inspires David. “I cheer for him. He has the best, positive attitude that motivates me. I cannot say enough great things about him. I do want to stick with Home Instead Senior Care. I do not want to give up my client,” David said.