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Activities – Assisted Living
As a young girl, I never imagined I’d be working in activities with seniors. What I really wanted was to be a police officer or to go into the military, or so I thought. When we’re young, a lot of us look up to people we see as leaders and with jobs of integrity and think that job is the way to be a part of those things. What I realized is when you follow your bliss and what truly makes you happy, you find there’s more than one way to get that. I found my bliss in aging services.
I was on my way to obtaining my Bachelors in Parks and Recreational Management when I took a Gerontology class and found myself loving this unexpected turn. I quickly changed directions and my career in aging services started soon after. I worked at the YMCA and several other senior facilities doing activities in Independent and Assisted Living before starting at Panorama in 2015. Working with this population in this community reminds me to be appreciative of every day, which we so often and easily forget. Enjoying the experience of every day is something our older generations teach us, and it’d behoove us to take note.
I can honestly say that I love what I do. Coming to work is a joy and adventure every day for me which is a reward on its own. In my position, the possibilities are endless. I love working in activities with these residents because a lot of what I get to do is be a part of their experience in doing things they’ve never done before. It’s not about how old you are when we put these activities together – age is not a factor. One of my favorite instances of this was this past Easter holiday. We did some Easter egg painting and it shocked me to find out many of the residents had never taken part in something like this before when many of us do it every year. There’s a childlike feeling in the air and being able to witness that is so heartwarming – it makes you feel really grateful for the part you get to play in that. They get to have fun and we get to give them the opportunity to do things they maybe never got a chance to. There’s nothing more fulfilling than helping others achieve their goals in any capacity that I can. It gives me so much more pleasure seeing someone else experience that happiness than achieving something myself ever would.
There are so many things that you wouldn’t know about aging without being a part of this field. The most surprising thing I became aware of is that some of these families are singular. You might think there should be 4 or 5 generations in these families, but it’s not always the case. We’ve become their family. This was shocking and changed my perspective on aging completely. It can be hard to do alone, so I’m more than happy to be any semblance of family for them that I can be.
If you’re considering getting into aging services, patience and flexibility are necessary. You have to be willing to go above and beyond because you can’t always foresee what will happen. One thing that can be very tricky in working with seniors is when people come and go. For us, it’s where we come to work and spend a lot of our time; for them, this community is their home. We grow to really care for one another and getting attached is inevitable. This work asks for commitment and being willing to adapt because anything can change overnight. I find these qualities very present here at Panorama – it’s a team atmosphere.
It’s my belief that it is so important to be a part of something bigger than yourself, and that’s what being in aging services is. It’s a calling - and sometimes a struggle - to be in this field and understand how fast things can change. You will get the most out of working with this population when you can accept and allow them to be who they are, where they are and how they are. The knowledge and insight we get to take home with us simply cannot be quantified in what we’ve gained. It continues to be a privilege to behold.
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