Louise ThundercloudEvery day, Louise Thundercloud's job contributes not only to her own self-sufficiency, but that of others. As a home health care aide, she assists elderly people with disabilities with daily life and routines, allowing them to live in their homes and remain independent longer.

As a person with non-evident disabilities herself, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Asperger's syndrome, Louise uses a range of coping strategies to assist her in carrying out her responsibilities and meeting clients' needs. OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts and/or repetitive behaviors. Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, is also associated with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests, along with significant difficulties in social interaction.

Understanding these conditions firsthand and how they impact her gives Louise a unique perspective on the challenges her clients may face. Her current main client also has OCD, along with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Working part time as one of his caregivers, she assists him with activities of daily living. In addition to personal health care and hygiene, this may mean accompanying him to medical appointments, shopping or getting out and about in the city to a museum or the gym.

"I understand the challenges he faces. For instance, he has a compulsion to touch things he shouldn't, and I can recognize that look when he's struggling," she says. "He also has a fear of crossing the street, and I can relate to how he feels. So I'm working with him on that, and can be patient, because I truly understand."

When not working, Louise enjoys spending time with her adult daughter and expanding her extensive knowledge of her Native American heritage.

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