Quote: “Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty – they merely move it from their faces into their hearts.”
When I was young, older people made me nervous. You couldn’t get me to talk to them, must less hang around them. In reality, I was probably scared of them, and even scared to think that I would become one. How dumb was that? Getting older isn’t a punishing, it’s a blessing for most, but not all. Some seniors are more independent, while others may require assisting living, and help with regular everyday chores. Getting dressed, putting on a watch, eating, or just needing help with how to use their cell phones. All of these thing are harder to do alone as some people get older. Not every grows old gracefully.
I work at a senior living community, five days a week. It’s always a surprise as to what these seniors will want to talk about. Some can easily carry on a conversation about the weather, sports, what they’ve heard in the local news. Some make me laugh. There’s a few that make it a point to come and talk to me everyday, these are my favorite! They think that they need me, but the truth is that I need them too! I’ve noticed a change in myself, in a good way, and I know it’s due to working and learning about them.
Working with seniors does have some great benefits too. It’s taught me patience. You have to have a lot of patience’s when working with seniors. Some move a lot slower than you do, some are very hard of hearing. Instead of getting angry with them because they may not be able to hear you, talk with your facial expressions, maybe use your hands or write down words onto a sheet of paper. This works best for me too.
The independent seniors, those are the ones that can leave the building on there own. They can come and go as they please, and they need little or no assistance. But they still need help with certain things, like finding lost items, making doctor appointments, or help having their packages delivered to their rooms. They are independent today, but things can change quickly, and you never know when one of them will require more assistance.
Some days are harder than others. Days that we needed to call 911 because someone fell and hit their head in the shower. Or someone’s blood pressure is extremely high, or someone is having problems breathing. It happens almost everyday where I work, and if not everyday, then at least every week. Paramedics know us, we call them often. But it’s never easy to deal with, and you know that there is always that chance that they may not return. It’s going to happen, none of us live forever, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.
Today, one of the residents that I was close to, passed away. She was 91 years old. Fragile. Out spoken. Very demanding at times, but I grew to love her. Yes, you do get attached to some of them. She had no family members left, she was the last one still alive. She didn’t get visitors, but she would come by me and talked to me at least twice a day, I looked forward to seeing her all the time. She had wonderful stories about when she lived in France as a dancer. She loved bacon and anything with heavy cream. She disliked pop music, but gave a pass to Katy Perry. She loved dogs, the color sky blue, and reading. We talked about books a lot. I learned about her life, and I learned to respect those that lived before me. I guess I loved her, in my own way.
Tomorrow, her things will be removed from her room. I’m sure that most will be tossed away, while somethings will be put into storage. There isn’t anyone, not even a grandchild to claim her belongings, she was an only child. All her friends were already gone.
As they were taking her away on the gurney, I got up and went to her, and I took her weak little hand into mine, and held it tight. She looked at me, but I’m not sure if she even knew it was me or not. She didn’t speak, she was almost gone at that point. But I wanted to say my goodbyes, and let her know that I was there. Whether she knew that or not, I don’t know.
Working at a senior living place isn’t easy. And I didn’t think that I’d enjoy it, or that I could do it, day after day. It’s been good, it’s been hard. Sometimes, really hard, like today. But I liked to think that I can be there to help them, to help their days be a little brighter, to let them know that they are not forgotten. That they are special, and still important. But they are helping me to be a better person. And I thank them for that, everyday.