After my first full week of practicum, and spending my days with delightful senior citizens, I cannot help but be thankful for my freedom. Fleeting and uncertain though they may be, I am grateful for the provision of weekends.
I have gained many insights through this first week:
1. I have the ability to strike fear in the hearts of poor elderly people who suffer from paranoia. This is a new experience for me, and is both frustrating and intoxicating. Don't worry, I will use my power wisely...
2. I am both energized and exhausted through social interactions. I come home feeling exhausticized.
3. Patience is a virtue that I need. It is easy to forget the sadness, pain, dementia, and exhaustion that can impact one's cognitive awareness.
4. People need meaning and purpose to feel like they have worth and value and self-esteem. Discovering and reminiscing about stories is extremely therapeutic for everyone, I think; hence the need for the therapeutic group I am developing on reminiscence.
5. The aging process is beautiful and painful and slow and fast. I think I forget about the deep needs that people have at all stages of life.
6. Relationships and community are VITAL for a healthy, happy life.
7. I want to be cremated. I think. And possibly tossed into the ocean. Or used as fertilizer for some pretty flowers. Much cheaper.
8. Simple gestures, touch, words, even the inclusion of one's presence can provide joy.
9. Musical activities are the most populated social activities among the elderly. I think this speaks to the reality that music is an important element of the soul that needs opportunity to be expressed and enjoyed.
10. Do I want to work with elderly in the future? Possibly. I wouldn't want to deny anyone the opportunity to kick me out of their room, or sing loud, obnoxious Italian music in my ear, or tell me the same story every five minutes.
11. According to the security man when taking my photo for my ID card, I have the worst devil eyes he has ever seen. Hmmm. Not exactly something you want to hear on your first day of working with elderly.