Everything I needed to know I learned from my residents (McKnight’s LTC News)
Here’s my latest article at McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:
Someone posted a story I Liked on Facebook about an 85-year old woman who graduated from college and already had a job offer. “She’s my new hero!” a Friend commented. That got me thinking about all the resident heroes I meet at work every day. They’re the ones who help me along the journey to having the kind of life I can look back on without regrets when I’m in my nursing home room in my senior years.
Lesson No. 1: Chutzpah
Back when I first started in long-term care, I was called upon to work with many younger residents who were admitted to the facility as a result of unfortunate incidents that occurred while they were taking a walk on the wild side. Their still-wild ways weren’t going over so well in the nursing home, but I admired how they stood up for themselves and their rights.
“Everyone knows not to mess with me,” one young lady declared, “because if they do, I’ll have a hit put out on them.” Wow! Now that’s assertiveness! I thought to myself, as I worried about the nuances of phrasing a request to a coworker.
Yes, threatening to put out a hit on someone was on the extreme side of the assertiveness scale, but wasn’t it possible I was too far on the mild side? Those young residents helped me edge a notch or two closer to asking for a reasonable amount of what I want and need from others.
Lesson No. 2: Keep on keeping on
Nina and Roberta had a routine. In the mornings, they sat in the lobby and greeted all who entered the facility. At lunch, they went from table to table and wished everyone well before dining. In the afternoon, they visited the very ill and prayed with them before returning to the lobby to welcome the evening shift.
In a private discussion with Nina, she talked about her younger years when she preached with her sister on the streets of New York City. Nina is my role model because she lived her whole life doing what she loved, adjusting for changes along the way.
Lesson No. 3: Live for today
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