Some Experiences with Seniors will Live With Me Forever

My most memorable moment as a dental hygienist was when I was working as a resident in a nursing home.

I would go to this nursing home on the third Thursday of every month. Some seniors remember things like this and look forward to them.

Every morning, when I walked in, from 6:30 am to 7:00 am, a senior lady was sitting at the door waiting for me.

 I would set up all my dental supplies at the beauty salon, converting it into a dental office.

The lady would follow me every time I came in with my equipment. As I set everything up, she would talk to me about her day. No topic was out of bounds, including conversations about her grandchildren.

Not Always Rosy

One day when I was at the nursing home, the lady and I were talking. Since I had already set up my dental supplies, I sat next to her to finish chatting.

The woman took an unusually deep breath. I asked her, “Are you alright?” she said, “Yes, but she took another deep breath, then she died right there. Just like that.

I felt it when she swept past me. She died when she was talking to me. She looked like she went to sleep. I broke down because I knew she had left.

When the woman’s daughter came to the nursing home, she came looking for me. She was crying. I was terrified that she would blame me. But the daughter said, “Thank you because my mother loved you and her biggest fear was her dying alone.”

That changed the trajectory of my life because many people work in so many areas of their lives, but I get to work with people at the end of their lives.

 And I have many stories like these that will live with me forever.

Dealing with Tough Situations

As a person working with seniors, it is inevitable that you are going to deal with death. 

I’ve learned that it is okay to cry with family members when you experience death. This will help them know that you cared about their parent.

When my patient died, her daughter thanked me for being with her mother. One of her greatest fear was that her mother would die alone. It made a difference that I was present.

If you are a CNA that would like to learn more about caring about older patients,  enroll in the Geriatric Toothfairy Certified Nursing Assistant Training. The course is designed to educate, motivate, and communicate the importance of oral care for aging adults.

The course is energetic and informative for the entire team. Each participant will be required to take a post-test and will receive a certification of completion from the Geriatric Toothfairy and American Mobile Dentistry and Teledentistry Alliance.


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