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Looking back on my life, prior to the birth of my son. I reflect on the "what could have been's" at times. The "should have been's". And all the "what if's". I seldom catch myself thinking about the impacts I've made on people.
Prior to my son's birth, I worked in many different industries. I've worked in hospitality, food, customer service, internet sales and many more. But the one that has always been a dream of mine, and my absolute favorite job; was memory care. I worked at one of the well known retirement facilities in my town. A highly ranked facility, with many levels of care. I was fortunate to work in every department aside from HR and administration. I worked at the front desk a time or two to cover for someone if they left sick, or went to lunch and those sorts of things. But my main and favorite job(s) were working with the residents.
I had a relationship with all of my residents. I started out in housekeeping on the first (bottom) floor. There was a total of 14 rooms. The 1st floor was the most independent floor. They still had their medications administered by a personal care assistant. But, for the most part, they were free to come and go. A few of them even had their own vehicles. I grew close to them as their housekeeper. But I felt my job was more than that. They always loved to talk, and I loved to listen to stories of when they were younger, or about their children and their lives in general. I soon moved out of housekeeping. But I was considered a floater. They put me anywhere, I was pretty versatile. I jumped between the three floors, housekeeping, doing personal care, I even worked in dietary. I loved my job!
I'm sure housekeeping doesn't sound like the best job. Even though I was cleaning, to me it was more than that. Building relationships with the residents on my floor(s) was the highlight of my day. Getting to work on a Wednesday realizing I got to see a certain few residents for sure that day, always made me look forward to my day. I was that worker that went above and beyond for my residents. I enjoyed every single minute of my day.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was moved to dietary, permanently, due to the strenuous duties of housekeeping and personal care. It broke my heart to move to the kitchen. But moving to the kitchen gave me more freedom and allowed me extra time and a longer lunch break to go visit with my residents, check on them, even read to them or play a card game or two with my two gamblers. Take one of my smokers to the smokers pit and catch up with her, then run into the facility's "10 second Tom"; like the man in 50 1st Dates. He was another one of my favorites. You could tell a lot about these people just by listening to stories about their lives.
Memory care is a very hard job. It comes with its up's and down's. I never dwell on the down's, although losing residents was one of the only things I still battle with. Even after not being there for a year and a half. To work in a place like that it takes strength, sometimes you're cut out for it. But a lot of the time people aren't. You have to genuinely care about the care and service you give working in facilities like that. I have a passion for it. I'm the type that loves the medical field and I love people, to a degree. But I have a soft spot for the elderly. It's a very dirty job, don't get me wrong. It's adult babies. But, these people are so genuine.
I was trained and certified in many fields, in order to work with the residents. Even when I worked in dietary, I still used those skills I learned. I was almost always called over the radio at least twice a day to assist in something concerning personal care with a resident who may have been stubborn or uncooperative. But I loved every single aspect of that job. I worked up until I gave birth to my son, took my maternity leave and I never went back due to his diagnosis and the medication schedule and all the in between's that we can't afford to pay someone to do. I love staying home with my son and caring for him. In a way, it's close to what I did at the facility, minus 99 residents. I just have the one toddler. And at times, when he's throwing his infamous tantrums, I think back to some of my residents who did similar things when they were unhappy about something or didn't get their way.
When my Mimi and Papa were put into a local facility here, is when I knew that's what I wanted to do. I used to go visit them with my grandparents every single weekend. I saw how the staff there interacted with them, and at the age of 9 or 10 I knew; that right there is what I want to do. They easily put a smile on my Mimi and Papa's faces. They tended to them with such care, and always treated us like royalty when we visited. I got all the snacks and juice I could ever need when I went there. But I saw the dedication these people had to making sure my great grandparents' last months with us were memorable and comfortable. The loss of both of them didn't just impact our family, it impacted the employees there that had grown close to them. It touched us as an entire family that they cared for them that much, in such a short amount of time. I think having such a close relationship with my great grandparents and my grandparents is what gave me the hope for it. I'm a caring person, and I loved my grandparents. So ultimately, that's how I treated my residents.
I have high hopes that sometime in the future I can go back to doing what I love, working with the elderly. Wanting to go back to school is a tough decision, because it would have to be online. And there are so many degrees I want to get. Which, if you're familiar with college, it is expensive. And of course, everything I want to major in is in the medical field so there's where all the money would go. But, I have very high hopes for the future. I want to start online classes, get a few degree's under my belt before my son start's school, and then maybe I can go back to senior care with those degree's and make a career out of it.
I miss every aspect of working with those residents. From the knock-knock jokes, to the "Hey little missy, I need help in here." If you have a dream, don't be afraid to chase it. Don't regret anything. Not even the "what if's" or "what could've been's". Chase your dreams. Face your fears. Be the person you know you can be. Wholeheartedly!