November 15, 2017
Hi, this is Katelyn. Writing to you a blog that is a bit different than what you are used to. My blog is focused heavily on providing you information and making sure you can make educated decisions. However, this month is special because it is the month of our Caregivers Awards Luncheon, a day where we celebrate excellent caregivers who make a positive difference in the lives of those living in long-term care.
So SPECIAL ADDITION. Here are some feel-good stories from my life about people who impacted me and brought me to this field. Experiences like these give people passion and make them excellent caregivers. I am going to skip Frank because you know him already.
Louise: When I was in Girl Scouts, we decided to go after the Bronze Award as a group. Our project was to visit a nursing home and make a scrap book for someone living there. This was terrifying to me, not necessarily because we were visiting a nursing home, but because I was very shy. I didn’t love talking to new people. Louise and I got along alright, but we didn’t have any profound conversations, she didn’t give me any life-changing advice, we didn’t become best friends forever, I didn’t officially adopt her as another grandmother. No movie-like stuff. But when her family sent over the photos for me to make her scrapbook, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about her. I saw photos from when she was a kid, photos from her wedding, and photos of her and her husband on their motorcycles, cruising around the United States. I spent lots of time working on that scrapbook, which is not a hobby I would say I should continue, but it turned out well. When I gave it to Louise, she slowly turned through the pages with a smile on her face. Making her smile made me feel good, and she deserved that moment of happiness and great memories.
Janet: In college, I decided to intern for an organization that ran the Foster Grandparent program. This program is nationwide so you may be familiar, but older adults go into schools and act as “tutors”, giving one on one attention to kids who need it. I got a call one day from my supervisor, seeing if I was available for an odd task. One volunteer, Janet, was taking the bus to the hospital up in the big city to have a colonoscopy. However, she found out that she needed to have someone with her to ride the bus, since she would be medicated when returning. So a few days later, I found myself sitting on a bus next to Janet, riding with her for her appointment. For a long care ride, I was worried about conversation, but it wasn’t hard. It flowed and Janet had a great time acting like I was her grandchild. When the medications hit, this joke became even more entertaining. So in this situation, it was a bit more movie-like. But there was a point when I could tell she was getting nervous. We were getting closer and she was quieter, and when we went in, I stayed with her as long as I could. Having me there was not only necessary to get the ride on the bus, it was comforting to her. From then on, we went on monthly walks together and I even helped her move from her apartment to a senior living community. She attended my graduation party with a smile on her face and got to meet my family. This taught me the power of just being present.
Roy: Another college story. I was in a class that required us to visit a nursing home once a week for the semester and talk to one resident. I was assigned to Roy. Roy and I got along well. It was a great experience. However, his wife was in the long-term care community as well because she had Alzheimer’s. It became quite clear that Roy did not need to be in the home and he was living there for his wife. Seeing them together was a huge life lesson. Her Alzheimer’s was pretty advanced, but the love that Roy had for her never faded. When the nurses tried to work with her, she would get agitated and upset often. Roy never was impatient or looked annoyed. One day when I was visiting, she was getting upset about not knowing her name. He rolled over to her and took her hand and said, “My name is Roy Smith, what is your name?” She calmed down and maybe even smiled with a reply, “My name is Mrs. Roy Smith.”
Rose: Rose lived in a long-term care community and had manic depression. She called me often at work to discuss issues she was having and her concerns. Each day, the stories were bigger and bigger. The concerns she had were most likely not legitimate, but it was sad to me that she felt this way every day and had these fears. So I listened to her and we talked about the issues she was having. I was amazed at how she always remained positive. She would call me at 1 AM and leave me voicemails until my mailbox was filled with her talking about her issues, but also singing to me. Her laughter over the voicemail could make any Monday morning better. It struck me that she just needed someone to talk to and I didn’t mind being the person that was there for her. One day, she was telling me another concern she had, and I listened. Then she got very serious and stated, “you are the only person who doesn’t immediately tell me I am crazy when I talk.” I am happy I got to be that person for Rose.
Join us for our Caregiver’s Luncheon on November 30 to hear great stories about direct care staff who make a positive impact on the lives of residents every single day.
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