At the age of 22, I started my career working in the field of senior care and it did not take long for me to figure out how strange, odd, or more politely stated “unique” my job was for someone my age. Over the years, I have met and befriended more people who have taken that same route. When I find these people, I get a little too excited because they totally “get” me and know what an honor it is to work and serve the older generation.
Today, I’m introducing one of my colleagues, Melissa. She is currently pursuing her degree in Gerontology (yahoo!). After this post, I hope you will see that people who work with “old people” are not just normal, they’re really really cool. I’ll let you see for yourself.=)
Hi Melissa! Tell me about yourself. How old are you? What are your hobbies? Anything you have on your bucket list?
I’m 28 years old, born and raised in Silver Spring, MD. I enjoy spending time with family and friends & I’m always down for a happy hour! I would love to visit Australia one day and/or go on a safari in Africa.
Okay, I’m sure peers and people of all ages have asked you. Why did you want to study gerontology?
I’ve always thought the aging process was interesting. Both of my parents were older when they had me (my mom was 40 and my dad was 53 when I was born). I’ve always been around people who are older and it always been interesting and eye opening to me how they viewed things. Especially the journey of aging (some were more go-with-the-flow than others).
How did you get into this field?
My mom has been a hospice nurse since I can remember. I used to go into work with her as a volunteer. I would work in the medical records office filing and answering phones when needed. I was asked to come in as a summer intern when I was 18 and have been with hospice ever since.
You mom inspired you! Okay, so can you share with my readers, what type of work you do?
I do administrative work at a local hospice. I’m currently a team assistant and scheduler for a team of visit nurses. I’m usually on the phone family members asking about equipment or supplies for their loved one. Once I get those requests, I follow up with the nurse.
Why do you have a passion for the older generation?
The older generation has some much knowledge to pass on to the younger generations. They have been through so much in their lifetime, that we can learn so much from them. I have a lot of respect for them.
I think the respect increases the longer you serve the older generation!
Do you have an AHA moment after working in the field that made you more passionate about working with seniors? Or an AHA moment before getting your job or starting school that made you want to work with this population?
I think my Ah-ha moment came at a very young age. Since my parents are older, I have seen the aging process with them first hand. Experiencing that has opened eyes about healthcare and what is still needed to help our elders.
At age 10, I lost my grandfather to lung cancer. I don’t think I understood it completely at the moment. He was enrolled in Hospice too late (in my opinion) and was enrolled for only a few months before he passed. At the age of 11, I found out that my dad had been diagnosed with diabetes and then lupus. At that age, I didn’t know what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t good and started thinking about ways that I could help not only people dealing with illnesses, but the older generation who need help during their final months or days when dealing with a terminal illness.
Finally, what is a misconception that your peers may have about working in the aging/end-of-life care field?
I constantly get asked by people around my age and even older why I work with hospice. They often think that because I work in hospice, I’m constantly depressed or down from being surrounded by death all the time. I often explain to them that it isn’t just about death. It is about helping the patient and their families deal with and have comfort in such an intimate and difficult time of their lives. Although I’m not physically in the home or the facility with the patients, I feel that I’ve helped the family by placing the supply orders or making sure the patient gets a special mattress to make them feel a little more comfortable.
Oh Melissa!! In the coming weeks, I’m hoping to share more that will give people insight into what it’s like working in the hospice field. It really is a meaningful field to work in. Thank you Melissa for letting us steal some study time to learn more about you. Continue to serve the older generation with compassion like you do. I am 150% sure that the young adults who read this post will think the field of senior care is cooler because of YOU!!!