I hope you are having a lovely Saturday so far. I can’t believe it’s already the second Saturday in May! Guys, summer is almost here!
Today, I will share my first “real” job experience as a graduated high school student.
I have to say it was probably not the normal after high school job. Not sure what some of you have done to earn money while in school or after graduating, but my personal experience was unique.
In July/June of 2020, our Pastor sent out an email to our church family about an older woman in the community who needed a personal assistant/caregiver. I noticed the email but wasn’t super interested at the time. Everything was a little crazy. 🤪
I told myself that if my mom mentioned it to me, I would look into it. I wanted her encouragement to look into it since I was unsure of it myself. Guess what? My mom mentioned it, and I started to become more interested.
I decided to call and get some more information. Several days later, I ended up having an enjoyable interview with the elderly lady I’m going to call, L.
I noticed right away that she didn’t seem to be in the best of health and might end up needing a lot more assistance than I could give, but I felt like I should give it a try if she wanted me to help her. I ended up getting the job… 🙂
Then suddenly, even before I had my first day of work, I got a call saying that she had fallen and had to go to the hospital. Her family was unsure when she would be coming back and said she would be in rehab for a while.
I didn’t know what to do. I still wanted the job, but how long would it be until she returned home? I went about my summer, and when August rolled around, she did end up coming home.
You’ll never guess how long my first shift was. 13 hours! For someone who had never had an “official” job, that seemed like a long time. Thankfully it wasn’t as long as it sounded, and the day passed pretty quick. I got along great with the L and her sweet dog, Sugar.
The first weeks of work were pretty rough when I started in August 2020. I worked part-time, but I had to get to work by 5:00/6:00AM most days.
That meant leaving the house at 4:30/5:30. It wasn’t just me working there all the time. L had a dear friend that was helping her and another family member.
Thankfully my work hours normalized, and the job was working out. I enjoyed the pace and just getting to encourage and support L, who suffers from Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease.
L had a super fun personality and loved to tell jokes and be silly along with me! We had great conversations and kept on a good schedule that gave her enough time to rest and be active. We watched some fun shows together, and I got to enjoy her favorite tv programs.
She had several other great ladies with her too. L required 24h care, so she got used to having us all around.
Sadly, L started having worsening trouble with mobility and memory. My workdays got very long and hard. I wanted to help her and give her encouragement, but it was almost like she wasn’t there anymore. Some days were better than others, but I started to get discouraged. It was getting harder physically for me to help her in and out of her chair and bed. I went to my chiropractor, and my back was all out of joint.
I realized that perhaps it was time to move on from this job. Don’t get me wrong; this wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. I put in my notice about four weeks from when I planned to stop working there. It was a hard decision, and L was sad about me leaving. She gave me a lovely thank you card along with a gift, and some sweet advice. She also said to stay in touch, and I will.
With that all said, today was my last day of working with L. I felt a kind of sadness when I left her house and got in my car this afternoon, but I also felt a measure of freedom. It was time to move on and explore new things, and that’s alright. I learned a lot and won’t ever forget my first real working experience.
What I learned from working with L this year:
- Older people deserve a lot more respect than we often give them. (It can be easy to sort of brush older people off when they talk to us, but there is so much we can learn from them. L was a teacher, and she loved Latin. She rode a bike to the school she taught at. She also had a motorcycle but didn’t like driving in town because of all the cars. 😎 She loves to tell jokes and also whistle and sing. She adores her little dog and gave me some great advice.)
- Older people have feelings. (I’ve felt bad in the past about dismissing an older person’s fears and anxieties just because I thought they were making them up or that they should be over them at their age. But this isn’t a good attitude to have. Older people have fears just as younger people do.)
- We need more good caregivers and people who genuinely care about older people. (Working with older people, especially those with diseases like Dementia and Parkinson’s, can be so hard and exhausting! There is often nothing you can do to help the older person relax or stop worrying about things that aren’t even true. It takes patient and understanding people to help them feel comfortable and loved.)
- It’s essential for family members to rise and care for older relatives. (I know sometimes this isn’t possible for some children/grandchildren if they live far away, but if you can’t physically help them, call the older folks in your life to let them know you care. Send them a note, stop by for a visit.
I know that was a super short list, but this post was getting pretty long. I’ll expound on some more of the things I learned in future posts.
I hope you all have a great rest of your Saturday evening!