Working in a nursing home is easily the best job ever

Most of my friends are 80

I worked in a nursing home for five years and it was easily the best job ever, reality TV worthy even. It was like walking into a small town every day: everyone knows everyone else’s business and there is always a new thread of gossip.

I worked in the dining room as a waitress, where the scandalous chatter was at a premium. As hilarious as it was at times, it was especially challenging at others.

Here are a few things I learned when serving those in their golden years.

Death isn’t so scary

I think that when people have images of nursing homes, they think of dying, sick, and miserable people everywhere, and while some might of fit this category, most were pretty ready to die, and were, in a really weird way, excited about it. This was a really horrific concept to me at first. How could someone who was so happy, welcome death so easily? But then I realized, they don’t really have anyone they grew up with, their bodies are falling apart, and like anything frightening, they’ve made peace with it. It’s simply the next chapter of “life.”

Literally nothing grosses me out anymore

I have found dentures in a water glass, food that had clearly previously been chewed on my body, and very questionable things in cloth napkins. At first, these sights were so gross and unsettling that I would think about them long after my shift ended. Then, I realized that this was simply part of the job and I got used to it. It’s ended up being pretty beneficial though, I can stomach anything, and we all know how gross guys’ apartment bathrooms can be.

Picture with the precious dish machine

I have excellent people skills

Most of the time, the residents were delightful to be around. There was always a table or two I didn’t mind avoiding, but for the most part, I was excited to see everyone every day. The residents loved to hear about our lives, things like what we were doing after work or how school was going, and they loved when we asked them about their grandkids or how they were feeling.

I learned to handle challenging and demanding people, especially through resident’s families. Most were lovely, but some were an absolute pain. I understand that maybe visiting someone you love in a nursing home isn’t the most pleasant experience, and that it can be very hard, but it doesn’t really change anything when you are rude to the people who care for your family member every single day. Of course, you can’t really tell the family this, so I had to be empathetic, even when I didn’t feel like it. Not easy.

A friend can be any age

It doesn’t matter how old or young someone is, if you spend enough time with them, you’re bound to get close. I think this was one of my more important lessons because I think a lot of the time, people think it’s creepy when you’re friends with someone who is older or younger than you. Now, I have just as many 80-year-old friends as I do 20-year-olds. Of course, the kinds of friendships are very different, but a friend is a friend. I mean, who doesn’t want a letter from their BFF Ethel?

What happens when you make me get a million things

I have the patience of a saint

During peak times of frustration, I had to keep my cool. So many times I would check on a table, go get something someone needed, and when I return, have another person ask me to go get something. Back and forth back and forth, mean while, I had several other tables to look after.

Additionally, sometimes the residents would ask me the same question every other minute. After about a half hour of this, it went from frustrating to hilarious, maybe because I was driven to the point of insanity. As annoying as some of their habits were, it helped me to realize that literally nothing matters and that people respond much more to calmness and kindness than anger and harshness.