How do you describe the feeling of happiness

A feeling of happiness

I am one of those to be pitied. When asked about my job at a party, I almost always hear the same reaction: Oh. Not an astonished, no, such a muffled dismay Oh. And the look at it asks: How did you end up there?

Thanks for your sympathy. It's just like this: I can't think of a better job. Even if it is sometimes strenuous, it is mainly because we lack the people who decide to do this work. Because they have the wrong idea of ​​her. The fewer geriatric carers, the worse the working conditions. The worse the working conditions, the fewer people want to become carers for the elderly. A vicious circle. I am sure that a lot of people out there don't know how well they are for it and how much happier they would be than in the jobs they have to do every day.

I used to think myself: everything, just no care. Always diapers, death and dentures. I then did a bit of a rush and learned to be a beautician after secondary school without any real enthusiasm. After four years I thought, filing nails and applying creams, you won't do that until you retire. At that time, older customers came to us for medical foot care. I've always had dementia. When old people are not oriented, they get restless and sometimes make a lot of nonsense, just get up and walk away, but I always got along well with them. They stayed with me and felt comfortable.

When I quit the job, I already knew where I belong. I went to an old people's home for a voluntary year of social service because I had never seen the inside of one before. Better take a look first, I thought, but two weeks later everything was clear. When the year was over, I trained to be a geriatric nurse, health worker and nurse, all at once. As a nurse, for example, I know more about diagnostics, as a geriatric nurse I know how to deal with dementia. What do I do if a woman says she has to go home to feed the chickens right away? Or: the children are about to come home and the man is standing at the door and the meal is not ready yet. I could say, it's not true at all, you are old, your children are over seventy and your husband has long been dead anyway. Then she either becomes sad because she realizes she is confused, or she gets angry at me because she thinks i'm lying to her. For her it is reality, she is young and the children are small.

Dementia is often compared to a bookshelf in which every book stands for a piece of life and from which one after the other falls, first today, then yesterday, last week, the last year. In the beginning a book sometimes just sways and comes to a standstill, but at some point it tips over and then it's gone. When a woman over 90 feels like a young mother again, a lot of books have fallen out.

I respond to them without giving an answer. I ask: "How many children do you have?" Or "What are their names?" Or: "What are some good things to eat today?" I try to calm them down during the conversation. If I succeed, it will be the best reward in the world for me. Let's call it its name: The woman is in the shittyest situation you can imagine. Full of fear and restlessness. And now I come and manage to make her feel safe again. Because I'm with her and I'm doing the right thing. Difficult to describe how good it makes you feel. A real feeling of happiness.

I give a lot and get a lot. Recently a man was dying, I was sitting by his bed. He was all to himself and knew it was going to end. Then he said, “Sister” - you don't actually say sister, but you can't get that out of the people - so “Sister”, he said, “You are always so nice to me, I would like to have another half because of you Live on for the next year. ”In an open-plan office, nobody would say anything nice to me. Well, fewer people die there. But for me there is nothing oppressive about dealing with death. I then see myself in moments that would scare me and find peace in the thought that someone is with me.

The difference is certainly that one deals with age earlier than other people. I have a living will in my late twenties. For example, it says that I don't want artificial nutrition.

At some point, most of them no longer want to eat. Nobody is force-fed or sedated here, as is often assumed. We can only offer it to people over and over again. We prepare high-calorie food for you, shakes with lots of cream and sugar, hot chocolate is actually always possible. Sometimes people also want familiar food from the past. A Swabian might be happy about spaetzle, a Cologne resident would never turn down potato pancakes with apple sauce. Sometimes old habits are enough, a wooden board instead of a plate, a jug instead of a glass.

A geriatric nurse slumbers in many of them. My brother, for example, studied mechanical engineering. He financed his studies with a weekend job in a retirement home. Well, and now he's going to be a geriatric nurse too. Men in particular are becoming less and less in the profession because they no longer gain experience as they used to through community service.

There is hardly any other profession that is monitored as closely as nursing, the job code is prescribed by law and is checked regularly. So we advertise the vacancies - and nobody applies! If in the end no one comes, we have to get help from the temporary employment agency. They know we won't come until the hut is really on fire. Then they can almost ask for what they want, until unskilled workers who do not know the house and the process earn more than trained employees. But of course, we are grateful for the help, and the good thing about social professions is that there are usually quite social people hanging out who don't want to make life difficult for each other. But on the contrary.

Sometimes you have to allow yourself to see the comedy. The other day, no one knows why, a woman stole dentures from every room and messed it up on her table. A huge spectacle. It took a long time to get everyone back to their owners. A dentist later engraved the names on all the teeth so that it would be quicker next time.

It's not all darkness. I don't want pity for my job. I want people to say: Maybe that would be something for me too. I can only say: that would be it. Not just out of compassion for other people, but also out of self-interest.

Recorded by Eva Sudholt