Looking Back and Moving Forward
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Looking Back and Moving Forward

I started my Nursing Assistant career forty-three years ago and have worked in the same long-term care facility for the past forty years now. Over the years, I have seen many cultural changes being made in the field. Back then everyone was referred to as patients, then residents and more recently elders. As these changes took place, it was difficult for us to change in the sense of calling them patients to residents and now elders but we all manage to accomplish it. Our elders have so many more choices nowadays, which has been a wonderful additive for those who live in a facility.

As I look back, I can remember when restraints were used routinely. The good old locked Posey belts, pelvic restraints, vest restraints and how many other types that we used to use. Already many years have passed since we have used these things and that is a blessing as they were nothing more than a pain to use for us and our elders. Sometimes they would be so knotted it was difficult to get them untied. I can remember that many who needed to have these were people that had symptoms of now what we call Alzheimer's or people with some sort of dementia. Back then they were unsure of this disease. These were definitely some challenging times to work in. Taking care of the combative person can be very difficult. At least now, we have much more knowledge through education as to how to handle and deal with these issues. I have been fortunate in my facility that we thrive on education, which helps me learn all the modern techniques and ways of dealing with the many issues we have today with dementias.

When I go to work daily, I not only have to take care of my elders, but then I also have to deal with their families as well. This too, can be somewhat difficult at times. Some of them can become quite demanding with the cares needed for their loved one. After dealing with them I often find that they have a guilty feeling for having to place them in a nursing home, but it can still create a problem for you and make it hard to get your cares done for other elders on your daily schedule. As much as I try to reassure them that their family member is getting the best care and attention they need, sometimes it isn't enough to satisfy them. There are times if I feel pressured or frustrated I will talk with my supervisor, or a social worker, and ask them if they could have a talk with the family for me. I find that having [End Page 143] good communication with every department and all supervisors is vitally important in my job. Unlike years ago, today we are all a team and are there for our elders and their every need.

On a more personal level, with my daily routine in care, I love when I can take my elder for a walk. Sometimes they may be fearful of falling or something else. Using reassurance and encouragement and getting them going can be a very rewarding situation. It's when they don't believe they are capable of doing this, and then they do, when you realize just how much you have done for them. The smiles, thank yous and hugs I get back can just warm your heart and even put tears in your eyes. The sense of accomplishment provided for them is very rewarding. This is just so true whether it be walking, eating, bathing or dressing. Taking the time to work individually with each elder on whatever levels needed is so important. When they tell their family member about their accomplishment that they achieved today, they are so proud. The smiles, twinkle in their eyes and the excitement shown is just amazing. Sometimes at this point I can develop a relationship with the difficult family member. Normally they will be happy for their loved one's accomplishment and grateful to you for helping them. My personal accomplishment is becoming a...