This professional caregiver has 20 years of experience caring for California seniors.

Susan Dimos has been caring for seniors for 20 years. For more than 10 years she’s been overseeing non-medical home care for seniors as the Director of Operations at ComForcare’s Alameda County, California, location. Senior caregiving is hard work, and it can often be an underappreciated profession. However, it can be incredibly rewarding as it provides many opportunities to significantly and positively impact the lives of seniors. In many cases, seniors thrive because of support from caregivers like Dimos.

Q: Why have you spent so many years working with seniors?

A: I love seniors. I have a passion for their wisdom and what they have to offer us, as well as what we have to enlighten their lives a little bit. [Working with seniors] feels like home for me. It’s a place where some of my talents can be utilized, as I make sure their lives have quality and that they have the dignity they so deserve and cherish. That’s the purpose.

Q: What are some of the typical challenges caregivers face when working with seniors?

A: The first challenge caregivers often face are the seniors themselves. Their dignity, self-esteem and ability to take care of themselves and “handle it” are so engrained in their generation that they are often in denial of needing assistance of any kind. They really don’t need help; they need support. They need to know we will back them up, not order them around. Caregivers need to be able to just go with the flow and let them be independent, while not bossing them around, but giving them that support to be who they are in that moment.

At my company, about 85 percent of our clients have moderate to late-stage dementia. Dementia tends to break down all filters, so for caregivers, having the patience to deal with that on a daily basis is challenging. I’d say the biggest challenge is being able to stay connected to what they really do from the heart, without becoming burned out or frustrated.

Q: What factors do you consider when recommending a senior living community or independent living community to a senior client?

A: Certainly finances are a consideration, but, what I’m really focused on is looking for one that’s going to offer them the joy of life they are looking for while giving them their privacy and dignity. I always think, “If it were my mom, where would she be able to move in and feel like her life hasn’t drastically changed?”

Q: How can senior living communities help caregivers when it comes to their typical challenges?

A: I think most communities do try and offer camaraderie, training and support for those who are on the edge of burnout. They’re just an under appreciated group that struggles all the time. Offer emotional support; offer a safe place to vent; offer a place people feel comfortable going to.

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