Apr 28, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know that I had the honor of interning in the activities department at a long-term care facility my last semester at K-State? It was part of the requirements for my degree; I was really excited to get the hands-on experience. I think field experience should be required early on, to give students a feel for what they really want to do, before they invest years into their education.

If you were to ask me, what's one of the most memorable/life-changing things you've ever experienced, I would answer: working at St. Joseph Village. I didn't get paid, but that didn't matter. I didn't need payment of the monetary sort. Time with the residents was worth more than gold. I had a million grandmas. They filled a huge place in my heart.
Earllee, me, and Kathryn, 2004

It wasn't an easy beginning. I didn't know much about wheelchair etiquette, dementia, Alzheimer's, activities and charting, whether to yell or talk normal due to their hearing loss, dietary restrictions, privacy, the odors...some moments were intense or really sad, or even scary when people weren't of sound mind or they insulted me, because my heart for people is strong and sensitive.

All of that came to not really matter once I got the hang of it. It was my paradise. Really, truly. And my strength somehow regenerated itself and I came back each day not knocked down, but built up.

I oft wonder how I'd handle the experience again: if I'd have the same patience, compassion, empathy, enthusiasm, mercy. I think I would. But I still don't think it's a career I'll pursue (I'd need more schooling, which I started but then had Wilder); the subsequent jobs I took weren't in gerontology-related fields.

For now, it's this experience that I have to appreciate and be proud of.

And when I live to be 103, like one of the residents, I'll still be gabbing about my precious 6 months tiptoeing about heaven.

Going from room to room, heart to heart.

Exercise time


Heather at All A Flutter said...

what a special gift! for you to be able to enjoy the care and company of the people at St. Josephs is a blessing to every one of the people you cared for, and to their families. it takes a very special person to do that work and i for one am so thankful for people like you that do it so well.

TheHappyNeills said...

I was thinking about you this weekend with your love for the elderly because we were watching Young at Heart--doc about an elderly singing group. It's SO GOOD and you HAVE to see it! I don't know anyone who would love it more than you ;)

They sing songs by the Clash, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead...they're awesome. You'll crack up and you'll cry.

My parents had rented it from Blockbuster--so other than that, I don't know where else you can rent it.