Monday, February 27, 2012

2-26-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #54 (Part Four, Working Eldercare in Greenwich Village)

What can I take away from the survival job experience of working with Nadya? First of all, I have always liked seniors, and enjoyed their company, even though they can smell funny (my grandma had a strange, unpleasant odor from her person, generally) and look a little scary.

Secondly, because they ARE generally smart and experienced in life, I find it easier to have a conversation and relate to them. Thirdly, their manners are generally better than younger people’s -- and I dig the niceties of life, the little courtesies (thanks, mom).

Given the choice, I’d prefer working with seniors over kids. . . though of course, the individual child or elderly person is an important consideration, especially if working with them one-on-one.

Working with Nadya taught me that using psychology with others is probably as important as taking care of the plain old day-to-day necessities -- which I’m good at. Food shopping, cooking, light cleaning, keeping house (lightly!) is all pretty easy, basic stuff. And everybody needs that, especially people who are hiring you to be a caretaker. The other thing you need is to make quick decisions in panic or emergency situations. I keep a cool head in a crisis; I’ve never screamed and cried until after the critical time is passed and I have time to reflect.

In the end, the hardest part of a caretaker job is the finesse you need to convince your charges that they are in charge and making their own choices. Meanwhile, you’re pointing them to these choices, prodding them in a certain (good) direction. Even if it just comes down to choosing some eggs and toast instead of flavored sugary yogurts day in and day out; even if it’s choosing fruits instead of puddings and cakes; even if it’s taking out pizza or falafels instead of MacDonald’s burgers. . .

As a caretaker, I always tried -- and try! -- to be a good influence, maybe an amateur cognitive therapist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, either *-)

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