Not My Cup of Tea

I never really imagined myself in geriatric nursing. There’s not one particular reason and it’s not that I dislike older people – I’ve just always been more drawn to the opposite side of the circle of life: pediatrics. So I was kind of dreading our first clinical placement at the skilled nursing facility (although it is one of the nicest nursing homes I have ever seen).

With two clinical shifts down, however, I find myself really enjoying it. Yes, there are awkward moments but I think that has a lot more to do with my green status than with the age of the residents. I was able to sit and chat with a woman who turned 100 this year and is still sharp as a tack. She didn’t seem to like me at first – who could blame her with 19 nursing students descending on her home? – but after I helped her inside yesterday and wheeled her to her room, we talked for a good 20 minutes. She now affectionately calls me “one of the purple people.”

We also picked the resident we’ll be doing a physical assessment on next week. We figured out very quickly that it’s not going to be quite as straightforward or easy as our exams on our adult volunteers. For one thing, most of these folks have some dementia and many are hard of hearing. Our mental status exams are going to be interesting. For another, they’re all age 90 and older so sitting them on an exam table for 30 minutes (probably more) and interrupting the routines they hold near and dear to their hearts would be very hard on them. So our clinical instructor encouraged us to do the exam in bits and pieces over the next few shifts.

My resident is a HOOT!! She is constantly smiling and making funny faces at people, so I was able to accomplish part of the cranial nerve assessment by playing the “face game”. Different cranial nerves are responsible for different motor functions in the face, so for example, by sticking out her tongue she was showing me that CN XII was intact. We also “exercised”, a.k.a., assessed range of motion.

This is a great introduction to nursing because it is relatively laid-back and more importantly, it forces us to be creative and adaptive. As nurses we’ll rarely be in situations where things happen as expected – I’m expecting the unexpected most of the time. I’m still pretty sure I want to work in peds someday, but I’m glad I’m having this experience now.

P.S. I LOVE compression hose! My first night I didn’t wear them and my ankles were killing me after only 4 hours. Last night I got wise and decided to try ’em out. God’s gift to nurses, I say!

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