Saturday, March 07, 2009

In the end, nobody takes over the world

Ok. So my last post sounded pretty negative. Kind of. I really don't harass people, it can just feel that way sometimes.

The truth is, for the first time in my life, I see the bookend at the end of my shelf. I have lived my life, such as it is, for the moment - the short term. Always in the present, never really contemplating the future. Of course, I think about the future, but in terms of next week or next year. Not in terms of when I'm 80 or 90. So far, life has been an open-ended odyssey to me, but now I have become aware of the fact that it is not open-ended at all. I have seen the bookend at the end of my shelf. On this earth, I am finite.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

This past week at the Center, I have met several of our residents (the large majority of whom are elderly.) For the most part, they are bright and friendly and not used to being smiled at by strangers. It seems that advanced age strips away the necessity to hide one's true feelings behind a neutral mask of politeness. They drag their eyes to me at first then look away fast, waiting to see if I'm friend or foe. Then I flash them a bright smile and with relief they smile right back. It's the best. It feels good.

I toured a Dementia/Alzheimers assisted living facility one day last week. It was a beautiful place. Plants and lovely dark wood furniture accented by large, soothing pieces of artwork filled the common rooms and offices. Spacious bedrooms were guarded by large curio cabinets outside their doors. The curio cabinets are called "memory boxes" and contained framed pictures of the residents and their families, memorabilia and trinkets from their lives before their brains were invaded by a memory-destroying disease. The cabinets were reminders. Reminders for visitors and staff of who the person once was, and reminders for the person who lives in the room that it's their room. Sometimes they forget and get lost.

My new job is challenging. It's hard to see mortality staring me in the face every day, the possibility of a dubious end. But it's making me a better person and I get to help people.

There's no better gig than that.

Monday, March 02, 2009

My plan to take over the world, Part 1

So, wow. I've really fallen down the rabbit hole this time.

The universe I have entered is one of the aged and the infirm. The world on which I have landed in this alter-universe is that of the long term health care industry, also known as a "SNF" (pronounced "sniff) - Skilled Nursing Facility, also known as a nursing home.

My task is to fill the beds, by hook or by crook. I am the marketer. I harrass hospital case workers and floor nurses, doctors and their staff, all in an attempt to get them to send us "referrals." I hold luncheons and give gifts, attend seminars and meetings, pass out business cards and brochures, all in attempt to increase the "census." The count of "heads in the beds."

And it's still better than working at Walgreens.

To be continued.