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Caregiver summer series: Deb Witt

What inspired you to be a caregiver?

I first started caregiving when a close friend of mine’s partner was suffering with pancreatic cancer. She reached out and asked me to help take care of him. Several years later that same friend, who is a certified occupational therapy assistant, heard Open Arms founder Julie Kollada give a speech at the hospital where she was working. My friend thought of me and connected me with the company. I have been an Open Arms caregiver ever since. I really enjoy the work. It feels rewarding to provide reassurance and peace of mind to families who can’t be there 24/7 to care for their loved ones. I treat each person I care for as if he or she is an extension of my family.

What is your favorite part about being a caregiver?

The interaction with the people I care for; I love seeing their smiles and knowing that I am making a difference.

What are some challenges you have as a caregiver?

Providing care to aging adults who have neurological decline can at times be challenging. One woman I care for lost her hearing at age 12. I did not know sign language when I first started caring for her. Communication is quite important. She’s having fun helping me develop my new skill and I hope to continue to get better.

Another woman I care for has Parkinson’s disease. She faces slowness, rigidity and loss of function which make her day-to-day living challenging. Her ability to communicate has become harder so we can struggle to get our points across but I use skills and information learned from Open Arms and my care coordinators to provide her the best care and quality of life I can. I am happy to see her each day and I believe she is happy to see me.

What lessons have you learned being a caregiver?

Each circumstance and each person is different. With each person I care for I learn something new that I can apply when caring for the next person. The lessons have also helped shape who I am and continue to move me forward in life.

What do you like most about working for Open Arms Solutions?

I love the relationship I have with my team of care coordinators. They are very thorough and help answer any questions I have. All of my caregiver matches have worked out well. Open Arms not only cares for aging adults but cares for its employees as well.

What are two words you would use to describe yourself?

Energetic and caring.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

I just went on a trip to California with my husband to visit and celebrate my grandson’s 21st birthday. He lives near Los Angeles and we don’t often get to be there for celebrations. It was wonderful to spend time with him.

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