By Lois Jasmer
Pulling up to the drive thru window at Starbucks this morning the bright, cheery Barista wanted to chat. I don’t know if this a new thing at Starbucks whereas they have the person working the window chat you up; but at 7am, before my first cup of coffee, it can be a bit much. I understand that rather than having a strange awkwardness as you wait for your coffee, talking is the acceptable means of killing time. But I HAVE NOT HAD MY MORNING COFFEE YET. And then she hits me with the question….”So, what do you do?”
For most people this question is a simple answer like “I am a fireman” or I am a secretary” or “I am a teacher” or even “I am a flight attendant”. Those responses all have a simple picture you conjure up in your mind of the person at work, doing their thing. However, this is not the case for me, because I am a Senior Care Advisor. Let’s break that down in the mind of the average Barista. Senior: old or established, high ranking (wrong, I work with senior citizens), Care: responsible for the health of someone (well sort of but probably not the same kind of care the barista was thinking), Advisor: Someone who gives out information (okay, now we are getting somewhere). What I do is so much more than the name implies.
First of all, I am someone that gives sound advice to seniors and their families when the senior is no longer safe to live alone at home. But I do so much more than that. Which is hard to explain in the time it takes to make a Skinny Vanilla Latte.
I counsel families and help them wade thru all the family dynamics that come with having aging parents. I stay in the middle, neutral to all the family history and hurts that come with being part of a family.
I advocate for the senior when no one else can or will. Whether in the hospital or at a rehab center. I know the questions to ask. I do what is right for the senior and help them get the best, safest care, taking into consideration more than just what the family, friend or nurse might think is best.
I communicate with the family every step of the way. Even if that means working on the weekend or staying up at night emailing the spouse because she is scared and feels alone now that her husband is living in a memory care community. I help translate what the social worker or doctor is telling the family or I have been the go between with families that are not getting along.
I build relationships with my seniors and their families. I am there for the adult children to comfort them when mom takes a turn for the worst and passes away before she moves from the hospital to the adult family home we found. I visit dad and play a game of cards with him in his new home; to make sure he is feeling comfortable in his new environment. I bring a slice of pie to mom when she can’t get out to get her own.
I care about my seniors and their families. I sit with dad and hold his hand, reassuring him while he is having a panic attack, because he is afraid he is dying.
As you can see I am not a fireman or a teacher. What I do is not something I can explain in the time it takes to make a skinny vanilla latte, it is what I do and who I am. When I said all this to the barista, she handed me my coffee and said “Here you go, I figured out who you are.” I looked at my cup and in big black sharpie it said “Super Girl”.