Renee Meyers

Finding New Paths

Life is not always straightforward and often contains unexpected twists and turns. Renee, an AffirmiCare caregiver for the past five years, has had anything but a boring life. She began working with AffirmiCare after a career as a graphic designer, responsible for creating artwork for wearable apparel. After spending many years in that role, she decided she wanted a new opportunity, perhaps a healthcare career.

“I became a caregiver to see if I wanted to pursue nursing, and both a friend and my dad suggested that I become a caregiver first, and then maybe a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) to see if it was the right fit for me.”

In her role as a caregiver, it soon became apparent that Renee was a natural leader. She became a team leader at AffirmiCare, a position in which she could exercise her problem-solving abilities and talents to provide top-quality service to clients in challenging circumstances.

“It’s about relating with your clients, which has to do with empathy. If they feel frustrated because they’re confused or insecure, I’ve found it helpful to engage with them. I share my experiences, for example, about being on my phone, all the while talking on my phone. These real-life stories make them laugh, and I say it’s normal to get confused sometimes.”

Renee’s ability to interact successfully with clients led her to work with a particularly challenging client, one that would not only challenge her professional skills but one who would help her grow personally.

“The most challenging part was learning how to stay calm. This client became agitated at times, resisting going to appointments or yelling embarrassing outbursts in public. Following my shifts with this client, I could barely imagine spending another hour with her. And then something changed. I saw this experience as an exciting challenge, and more importantly, rewarding because I would be bettering someone else’s life. I wanted to learn about the client and make the situation less difficult for her and her care partners. Observations were key. I needed to figure out her triggers.”

Renee’s dedication, vision, and hard work paid off.

“Once we got to the point of understanding one another and building trust, almost all our time together was pleasant. We were able to avoid any agitation or anxiety. We would take drives in the mountains to look for animals, and she loved it so much. And we listened to forties music on the way. I made her a playlist on Spotify with her name on it, and it made her so excited to see it.”

What started as a frustrating experience transformed into an opportunity to become better at her craft, become a more understanding and skillful caregiver, and develop the maturity to handle demanding clients. Most importantly, Renee’s new skills resulted in her client having a better quality of life.

“When I would walk into her apartment, her eyes would light up. And she would say, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Caregiving can sometimes include the sadness that the passing of a client you’ve learned from and grown close to.

“My client’s death was one of the hardest losses I’ve dealt with. We were together for many hours a week; we became almost best friends, age didn’t matter. It was just on a different level.”

After her client’s passing, Renee took a deep breath and reflected on her time.

“Being a caregiver is not always easy. And it takes time and intentional practice to stay calm, have patience, and think before responding. We must learn to have compassion and empathy for our clients. When a client is agitated, ask them if you can do anything to help. Observe what causes the triggers and avoid them in the future. And remember, it’s okay not to be perfect. It won’t always be perfect, no matter how well you understand them. And that’s how we continue to learn.”

This chapter of Renee’s life will always be meaningful, a time of growth, maturity, new challenges, the reminder of impermanence, but one of pure joy. Eventually, Renee decided that it was time to return to pursue her educational dreams. Her caregiving experience as a team-lead helped prepare her for entry into a Master of Business Administration program, a departure from her original thought around nursing.

“I’ve always been into numbers and finance, stock market. And over coffee, my mom suggested maybe I should go to business school. And so, I applied, and, wow, I was accepted into the program. It was a perfect fit for me. I could relate everything and each course to my caregiving position.”

Renee continued in her caregiving role while she pursued a new direction. Asked how she thought her client would have responded knowing that she had worked for and earned an MBA degree while pursuing caregiving. She replied, “I think she would be incredibly proud of me.”

We are proud of Renee and wish her the best for her future. Her work as a caregiver challenged her, changed her, and sent her in a fulfilling direction. We’re also grateful to Renee for her impact on her clients and the AffirmiCare team!!

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