Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sometimes Getting Old Gets Ugly

The hardest part of my job, for me anyways, is dealing with the clients who think I'm a paid housekeeper to order around at their whim. That's not what my job is all about. It does include housekeeping tasks, however the main issues I am there to attend to are personal care, ambulation, nutrition, safety and if there's time left, housekeeping. I'm there for two hours and personal care and meal preparation, depending on how much assistance is needed, can take more than half that time. Laundry is another time suck since most of the clients live in apartments and laundry rooms are usually on a different floor.

I have a client in her 90s who wants housekeeping only. Her care plan, provided by the Office of the Aging who pays for half of her care is very clearly marked as needing a certified Level 2 PERSONAL care aide. Housekeeping cases are marked Level 1. I don't do housekeeping cases because I'm a level 2. All my cases are personal care level 2 clients who understand that if they ask me to do an additional task it means something else doesn't get done. I am limited to time. I don't get paid for extra time at a clients.

Cleaning the kitchen for a Level 2 client means wiping counter tops, spills off the front of cabinets. Removal of science projects from the fridge, disposing of said projects, washing the containers, wiping down the shelves and the door and door handles. Stove tops are wiped down, cannisters are wiped down and floors are swept and mopped. It does not include emptying the cannisters, washing them, drying them, refilling them. It does not include cleaning the oven, pulling out the burners on electric stoves, pulling up the catch pans and using a hammer and chisel to remove years of accumulated spills. It does not include defrosting of the refrigerator either.

We vacuum traffic areas only. We do not move furniture nor do we spend time pulling cushions off furniture to vacuum under them. We don't wash walls, although if provided with something effective we will swipe around ceiling edges and corners to remove spider webs. We don't stand on step stools to do this.

I can't dust in that house without knocking things off the shelves and table tops. In a case where so much is on these pieces of furniture, client is supposed to remove these things. She said it didn't matter, there was nothing important so I took the feather duster and tried it. I knocked things down that suddenly became antiques. Fortunately nothing broke.

I did the cannisters for her. I vacuumed the furniture for her. These things took time so I didn't get the shelves in the bathroom cleaned out nor did I do the bathtub since there was an issue with the faucets. Water was leaking so steadily from the back of the spigot I was afraid to turn the water on in order to rinse the tub down. Had it broken off we might have had a serious issue. I also didn't dust that week

I arrived yesterday to hear how sick of cleaning her house after I clean her house she is. Apparently her bathroom sink and toilet got really dirty the day before I was to arrive and she was expecting company. The tub issue was being worked on by maintenance and he wasn't too careful where the dirt went, but this was all my fault. The faucet handle in the tub is absolutely black. In her world, this did not occur because the maintenance person made a mess, it occurred because I didn't clean it a week ago.

We have a tremendous turn over in help and I've begun to wonder if maybe that isn't occurring because of the way these clients treat the girls sometimes. If you talk to the coordinator or the supervisor they do nothing except to tell us we don't do something, but we can tell the client they can call the office with any questions. In other words we are on our own but can't be rude to the client.

Life isn't always fair, I don't expect it to be but I am damned sure I won't stand still for being treated disrespectfully no matter how much older than me a person is. I like my job and most of the time I not only like my clients, I care about their well being. I do have to say, this woman is making it very, very hard. I'm beginning to run out of excuses to make for her behavior and I'd really hate to go through life thinking she's a bitch.


  1. Sherry,
    We run into those types in the rest home too, people - and/or family members - who believe their needs (often wants) take precedence over the needs of the other 23 residents on our unit. As patiently as we can, we explain our particular "facts of life" to them. Then we go on. Curiously (not), the ones who seem most demanding in our setting are the same ones who receive few if any visits from family or friends. Makes me wonder, does your client get many visitors?

    1. She seems to get visitors. Other neighbors, family, etc. I think she's been rejected as a volunteer in the schools. A "job" she decided she wanted and applied for. Can't walk or stand long enough to pick up after herself but she thought she could chase kids around in school?

      She only gets 2 hours a week and I'm only 1 person. I have to find a way to deal with this without getting angry, and I'm not sure I can.

  2. One of the things I know for sure is age does not confer intelligence: if you are a stupid, thoughtless young person you will be a stupid, thoughtless old person. Old people deserve consideration if they deserve it.
    the Ol'Buzzard

    1. Yup, and old people suffering dementia also tend to be meaner than cat piss if they're forced to face the reality of their limitations. She's alone in the world, never had children so she has to rely on others to do what she can't do anymore. It's not easy to accept that for many people, she's lost control and she's not liking that.