Working in the healthcare field I get to interact with Senior Citizens and I’ve learned a lot. You see, in this country we don’t value our Senior Citizens as much as we should. We see getting old as something we must avoid at all costs. Well guess what, we can’t stop Father Time so we’re all going to get “old.”
The word senior always meant something to be revered like being a high school or college senior. It meant you’ve paid your dues, and you’ve been through it and came out on top. So when we bestow the title of “Senior Citizen” on our older citizens it means they have stature in society, thus have something to share. That’s where “Golden Stories…Lessons Learned” comes in. Senior Citizens have a wealth of knowledge, experience, experiences and wisdom to pass on if we take the time to be in their presence. During my time working in the healthcare field I’m going to share my experiences and what I’ve learned from our Senior Citizens. These stories are true. This is my way of honoring them.
Even through the haze of Alzheimer’s Senior Citizens have much to share. A gentleman had early onset of Alzheimer’s but he was able to tell me about some of his life. He was a tractor trailer driver who drove the big rigs. He hauled cheese from Denver to California regularly. I asked him questions about tractor trailers like how long his runs were, what it was like and how many gears tractor trailers had. He told me his truck had 16 gears with 2 gear boxes, his runs would last a week and he enjoyed it though his wife didn’t. I found it fascinating especially since I could just drive a 5 speed. I can’t imagine driving a vehicle with 16 gears and 2 gear boxes. His wife didn’t want him on the road anymore so he became a welder. He called it “working iron”, which he loved to do. He also loved to cook and play the piano by ear. Mainly classical music because his mother insisted though when she wasn’t around he would play honky-tonk music. Something to ponder, he would have a difficult time remembering how to get back to his room but he remembered some of his past. Lesson learned… even those with Alzheimer’s have something to teach.
I had the pleasure of meeting a woman who was 90 years old and had low vision. She showed me through her blindness how much we really need each other. She needed help picking out her clothes each day and setting up her meal trays so she could locate her food. She would tell me that sometimes the aides would set her tray down on the table and just leave. She would have to feel around for her tray, utensils and drink. She said she was too embarrassed to eat in the dining room because she had a hard time getting the food on her plate and the other residents would talk about her so she would eat alone in her room. Hearing this, I would check on her during meal times to make sure she was set up and knew where her food, utensils and drinks were. She was so appreciative it brought tears to her eyes. She’s since passed on. Lesson learned – it’s the little things.
Another Senior Citizen was 82 and active. I met her recently. She was a school teacher from New York but has lived here in Colorado for many years. We began talking and she told me about her family troubles. I felt she needed to talk about them so I listened. That was all well and good until she began to tell me about how she had an affair with a married man and her sex life. That caught me off guard! It was quite extensive and is still going on. Needless to say I changed to subject. That was like having a conversation with your mother! I couldn’t quite handle that. Lesson learned… you’re never too old to get your groove on!