Saturday, July 28, 2007
For a few weeks I've been working at a local retirement /assisted living home as the activity assistant. It's a job I kindof stumbled across. Mom had been circling ads in the shopper for weeks--McDonalds, Servicemaster, detasseling, herd manager for something with cows.... and then this one!
Basically, I'm in charge of entertaining about twenty people from the assisted living side and then whoever thinks it's worth walking over from the independant living side. I lead exercises in the morning, play piano for the hymnsings, set up chairs for special events, give manicures, bake, read numbers for bingo, serve dinner, and organize lots of random other activities.
Those are my feet in the water at the pool party. The residents weren't quite as eager to get in (actually one man told me he wasn't coming after he found out i left my bikini at home). Some of them had legitimate excuses such as nylons and bandaids, but I made up for their dry feet by going in all four pools. I did not go down the slide, contrary to popular demand. Some of them did stick their feet in, probably because they knew I had been dragging around hoses all morning.
I spend a lot of time knocking on everyone's doors persuading them to come out. Some of them have dementia and don't remember there's an activity. Some of them just don't like to socialize. One lady LIES to me every afternoon, saying she can't come to the afternoon activity because she's getting visitors (which she isn't). I don't really get it. I'm not going to be OFFENDED if you don't want to come play rummikub with me.... okay maybe I will be a little bit, but she doesn't have to lie about it!!! anyway. I'm still working on her.
I'm learning a lot--how to crochet potholders, how to make old people laugh, how to speak to a group of semi-deaf people, how to deal with old men (bikini fan man... among other things.... told me that if he ever divorces his wife, he's going to marry me. Also he invited me out for beer), dutch words, and the fact that they think everything i wear is "interesting" or as marie tells me, "gaudy."
There are hard parts of the job too. I just had started to befriend one lady who is kindof a loner, and sometimes i would sing to her when I pushed her wheelchair. She has dementia, her husband yells at her alot, and she's on so much medication she can hardly stay awake. Sometimes we went outside together in the wind. She has to move to the nursing home this weekend. And then there are people who just need to talk, and they tell you about how they're afraid of meeting people because they can't hear well, about their sons who died in Vietnam, how lonely they are since their husband died two weeks ago, or what it was like to be injured in a field hospital in WWII.
Friday I got to lead their Bible study. Have you ever been in a Bible study where every person there has either had some serious illness, had their spouse or children die, been in War, immigrated to a new country, lived through the great depression, or given up of posessions and freedoms to live in an assisted living community? Or...all of the above? To listen to them talk about all of these things and then hear them stress the importance of being able to say and believe "Thy will be done" floored me. I don't really know anything.