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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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What it takes to be a caregiver

What it takes to be a caregiver

Being a caregiver is challenging, but ultimately fulfilling work. It requires compassion, resourcefulness, patience and a genuine desire to help others. In the words of Simon Hensman, a caregiver for Home Instead Senior Care in Rochester, "you need to have some sort of caring heart for people."

Simon has been a caregiver for nearly six years. Originally from Zimbabwe, he spent time in Europe and northern Minnesota before ultimately moving to Rochester. Simon tell us he finds purpose in helping those who have reached a point in their lives where they can no longer cope on their own.

"You are essentially becoming their hands, their feet, their minds," says Simon. "You’re taking on what they’re not able to."

Caregivers help their clients with a wide spectrum of needs, from getting them dressed in the morning to assisting with daily tasks around the house. They also play an important role in providing companionship, explains Peggy Veith, a veteran caregiver with Home Instead. That means showing a genuine interest in who they are and what they need.

“People need to be treated with dignity, so that's a lot of what we do," says Peggy. "Growing old and having some form of debilitating illness; it’s not easy. It takes a lot of courage."

Peggy is a former teacher who also spent time in the Peace Corps (it's where she met her husband). She says her background in education can be helpful when working with people with such diverse needs.

"It takes a lot of of creativity because I need to think of all these techniques and approaches that are going to help," says Peggy.

She recalls one client in particular whose abilities were beginning to decline. Because he was man of strong faith, she decided to bring in a hymnal book and began singing to him. What happened next, she'll never forget. “I was about 20 minutes in, and I got to ‘On Eagles Wings’ and his eyes just flew open and he started singing along. The music revived him.”

For caregivers like Simon and Peggy, it's moments like those that make the job rewarding. Simons adds, "whatever you do, they just need to know that you care for them and that you’re there for them."

Lean more about becoming a caregiver.

Cover photo: Simon and Peggy

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