2007-11-25

The Coolest Thing

Hi everyone!
I may have already mentioned that, although I usually have held jobs working with children, and am studying to be a special education teacher, right now I am working at the opposite end of the spectrum, as an activity aid at a senior living community. (Its a large place that has a "neighborhood" for seniors in just about any walk of their aginghood... from people who can live independently in their own apartments and participate in tons of activities, to people who canstill do many things with some assistance, to people who need intense therapy for dementia or Alzheimers, to people who just need a place to stay for a few weeks to recooperate from an illness or an injury.)
Part of my job is that, whenever a new person comes into the Skilled Nursing neighborhood, I have to do an activity assessment on them. I Have to fill out a long form about all of their hobbies and passtimes, past and present. A lot of Activity Aides hate doing it. But it is actually my favorite part of the job, because I get to listen to all sorts of stories. People on Skilled Nursing tend to be lonely, and are more than happy to spill out their entire life stories to a girl with a badge and a clipboard! I hear about all of their jobs, the volunteer work they did, the different places they've lived or traveled to, their children, their siblings and loved ones who died in war, their experiences surviving the Depression, the miracles they've encountered, and their theories on life.
While many aides rush through this process in order to get the rest of the paperwork out of the way, I tend to dawdle during the first assessment. I let the resident lead the conversation, listening to anything they want me to listen to, taking notes when I can, and moving onto the next question only when the resident urges me to.
The next part of this process is, I have to write up a summary about the person. Since I love to write, this part also comes easy to me. I tend to get right to the heart of the person, the way I enjoy getting right to the heart of my fictional characters in the stories I write!
Finally, I have to come up with a goal for the person. The goal can be something like, "This person will go to this particular activity once a week," or "This person will accept a 1:1 visit from an Activity Aide once a week," or "This person will help others play BINGO once a week." I think its pretty fun to come up with the goals. If the person has said they love crafts, you can give them a goal of coming to a craft activity once a week. If they love card games, you can suggest they come to KENO once a week. If they don't have any interests at all, or if they claim they cannot do anything because of their poor vision or poor hearing or whatever, its trickier... you basically have to find a way to coax them out of their rooms to get them to try new things.
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, I complain about my job, but I really love what I do. I feel like I'm learning a lot from the residents! I just wish I didn't have to work every single day, Sunday through Saturday, because it makes it hard to get homework and other things done. Hopefully though, once December starts, my work schedule will be a lot less intimidating.

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