After working for a little over a year at a continued care retirement community I have learned some important lessons about myself and decided to share them with you all! If anyone else has ever worked as a nurse, CNA or in a nursing home in general, please leave a comment saying what you have learned about yourself!
1. I’m not good at hiding when I’m tired
Working for 8+ hours at a time, you get tired. Since my job is to keep our residents happy, I rarely complain of being tired/hungry/in pain. However, one resident in particular always comments on how tired I look by the end of the night. I always thought I hid it so well but after looking in the mirror I realized she’s right, when I’m exhausted it shows.
2. I am able to remember A LOT
As a CNA you have to remember every little detail about a resident’s schedule: What they typically order to eat, what they are allowed to eat/drink, what time they go to bed, their nighttime routine, what they like to wear, what time they get up, ect. While this seems overwhelming at first, it becomes almost instinctual. I sometimes go two weeks without working and will still be able to recall everyone’s preferences and routines when I get back.
3. I am stronger than I think (physically and emotionally)
Having a job where you are expected to care for all the needs of another person means there is a lot of physical strength involved. I have to be able to help residents as they stand, roll them around in their bed and support their weight as they walk. Sometimes a resident’s strength will give out during a transfer (moving from the bed to the wheelchair, for example) and you will be practically holding them in midair until you can gently sit them down. I do not have large muscles but I am still able to (typically) hold my own. (However, I am no where near as strong as my other co-workers, may of whom have been working for years and make everything look so easy!!)
After working a year, I have witnessed my fair share of deaths. I have held hands of residents on the brink of death, read to them, sang to them and told them it was alright to let go. I have heard residents cry for their parents and wish to die. I have been present when the nurse listened one last time for a heartbeat and declared the resident deceased. I have had to discuss funeral matters with a family minutes after witnessing their loved one’s death. In all of those times it is imperative to stay emotionally strong for that resident and surprisingly I am able to do it every time.
4. I ask for help a lot – but that’s okay!
It can be easy to be prideful (or not want to bother your co-workers AGAIN) and want to do everything by yourself. However, as a CNA, the well being of the resident is extremely important. I have learned that if I am uncertain of anything, to never be afraid to ask for help. It is better to have more people helping than to be shorthanded. Luckily, I am blessed to have great co-workers (many nurses included!!) who are always willing to lend a helping hand.
5. My heart has an ever-growing abundance of love for others
I have celebrated holidays and birthdays with residents, cheered them on during physical therapy and sat through many televised sports games and routed on their teams. I have been spat on, peed on and cursed at by residents who are confused and do not understand why I am in their rooms. I have spent many hours working and typically go home each night feeling exhausted. But, even on the most stressful of days, I still love each and every resident with all of my heart.
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