Ever since I was younger I have always been a care giver. I have always wanted to take care of everyone and make sure everyone had what the needed. I have a little sister that my mom said I always “mothered” and would even go against what my mom told her to do because I thought something else would be better for my sister. I have always been stubborn and fought for what I was right for me and for others. When around my cousins I would make sure everyone had a drink and a snack and be pottied when they had to go, which we did not know but would make me the perfect aide.
Once I began working at 16, I wanted something that not all the people in my high school were doing. They were all at fast food or local restaurants and stores and to me those jobs had no meaning, you really are not helping anyone. I ended up finding a job in activities at a nursing home, and I absolutely loved it. Yes, I was playing games with old people but I was also helping these residents mentally. My entertainment and activities allowed them to get out of their rooms and interact with people. I talked with them, I listened and gave a helping hand. I helped many get out of a depressed state and become happy again with just listening to what they had to say while coloring. I loved my job!
Once highschool ended and I had a different job in the kitchen at the nursing home as well, I knew I wanted to do more. I was already happy with being around the nursing home work life and had background with the residents so I became an aide. I did not understand the responsibility and patience it took to completely care for a resident before I became an aide. It was a shock and I did have my moments where I was not really sure at first if I could handle the pressure from the residents and my co-workers. Then I had a dementia resident look at me one day and tell me how much she appreciated everything I did for her, she stared at my face and told me noone had ever given her the patience that I did and she could tell she stressed me out but she did not mean to. She would never remember my name, as expected, but she knew who I was as soon as she heard my voice and it made her day every time I was with her. That is when I knew I was not working for a paycheck, I was working for my residents. It did not matter if I was having a terrible day, when I was working it was all about them. Even outside of work, I volunteer to come in and cover shifts or if activities needs an STNA to come on an outing (without pay) I do not even hesitate to volunteer. I know activities do the best for keeping the residents happy and I fully support helping them.
Being an aide ofcourse has it’s problems, not all aides think the way I do about the residents. Some have less patience and take it out on their co-workers, some are just generally not nice people and come off as super mean to the residents, and some can not hold back their feelings to their bad day and it comes out to the residents and co-workers. Your co-workers are the only ones who understand what you are doing, they are apart of your subculture and all typically try to care for each other and help each other out. Nor do all the residents understand all of the work we do have to do, and I do not expect them to. It’s my job of choice not theirs. I believe that being an aide has nothing to do with what the job can do for me, which is not much to advance me in any career, but about what I can do for my work. It is about helping, caring, and being patient. It is about being non-judgmental, understanding, and always having a smile on your face. They look to you for comfort, you are their home. You work where they live so they see you almost every day, you become basically closer than their own family and at times there’s the resident that has no family and you are literally all they have. I have had a resident introduce me to her own daughter as her granddaughter, to be fair she had not seen her daughter in two years and I have been working full-time since I became an aide so I was her family. It was an honor to have a resident think so much of me.
Then there are the people who have no idea about aides and label us as the “butt wipers”, my favorite. I usually state that I am an aide and they cringe, look me up and down and say “so you have had crap on your hands?”. I always where gloves but you cannot control a resident’s poop aim, so the occasional incident happens and poop goes on my skin, it is what it is. To only think of me as a bowel movement control agent is kind of insulting though. Who takes residents to dinner? Puts residents to bed, waking them up in the morning? What about their showers? Walking them back and forth because their insurance will not cover therapy any more? I do housekeeping, kitchen work, and therapy work. I am irreplaceable honestly, but it does no good to think like that. All departments are important and they each help me too because they care and help the residents as well. There is a million more jobs to being an aide, and I am proud to be one.