Working with older people is a completely different experience from working with teenagers.. and yet its not.
The misbehaviour level is quite different – pretty much non-existent with the retired crowd, and when they do get up to “shenanigans”, they long ago learned how to be discreet. On the other hand, there are still all the issues of angsty human relationships… kids who don’t visit, friends who become cranky, feeling lonely and sad and depressed… and part of what we do is help those people, listen to those people who just need to off-load.
The most emotionally wrenching part is dealing with the emergencies – the falls, the illnesses. There was one just yesterday afternoon. Still haven’t heard how the resident is doing – we hope well, obviously – but the other emergencies we’ve been involved with have turned out okay. At some point however, one will not. How do you handle death? How do you be supportive and calm and efficient while watching someone die, or looking at someone who already has died? This is the part of the job that will test our souls.
The part of the job that tests my patience is the company owner, a giant American corporation that really should not be in the business of providing human services. Accounting services, absolutely. The care of senior citizens, not so much. Dealing with the paperwork and the sales demands and the freaking constant phone calls checking in, however supportive they have been so far, and they have been quite supportive, makes for an incredibly demanding day.
I did a mental exercise at 3am Monday morning, waiting for the ambulance to show up, and figured out that we’re each earning $4.98 per hour doing this job, assuming we shut down the office days at 9 hours, which didn’t happen yesterday!
So the money sucks, the work is weird, and you’re wondering why we’re doing this. So are we. Until one of the residents comes into the office and says something sweet or we actually HELP someone with a problem or we have a really fun moment with one of our colleagues…..
And of course, we are actually enjoying working with each other. Despite the fact that he’s the eager beaver, and I’m the “let’s stick to the schedule and the hours we’re supposed to do”. We have figured out what we’re each good at doing, and mostly stick with that, which is working out for us & the company. And this part of the experience is priceless.
Stick around – more creative stuff is coming. But for now, it’s back to the salt mines.