Carol Cummings, RN, BSN, Expert on Aging Well

Contact Carol
04 September 2016

We mostly think of Labor Day as a three day weekend that marks the unofficial end of summer. And it is that, but it is also an annual opportunity to honor workers. According the US Department of Labor website Labor Day is “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

Ironically, many workers don’t have the day off on Labor Day. Among them are  many of the tens of thousands of folks at Brookdale who are dedicated to the care of our residents. Being a caregiver for seniors is not for everyone. Most folks don’t last at it unless it is their calling. And those of us who work in senior living do consider it a calling.

The dedicated folks who care for our residents every day and every night are the most amazing people on the planet. They do their jobs, as in the tasks that are in their job descriptions… but they do SO much more. And it is the “so much more” that makes our communities such special places.

The “so much more” part of the job is made up of the beautiful web of relationships that form between associates, residents, and family members. Consider the story of a new sales manager at a Brookdale community. When he started his job and got to know the residents he discovered that the doctor who delivered him and made sure he was adopted into a wonderful family was a resident at the community. He now has the opportunity to reciprocate and care for this doctor and his family.   

There are so many more stories to tell. Like the resident who was sad because she wasn’t able to travel to attend a family reunion. The team at the community made sure she was able to “be there” via a video chat on the community iPad. She stayed on for three hours!  Then there is the story of an associate who learned that a hospice resident enjoyed classical music, so he brought in his violin and played a favorite piece for the dying resident. 

A favorite story of mine is about a resident who sat in on a discussion group led by a Brookdale physical therapist called “The Circle of Life” -designed as an opportunity to discuss issues of aging. One day the group was focused on the topic of forgiveness. After the session the resident was moved to contact her only living relatives, a nephew and his father, from whom she had been estranged for reasons she could not even remember. They came to visit her at the community and the first person the resident wanted her family to meet was that therapist.

These stories are unfolding all the time-on Labor Day and every day. But this, my friends, is not really labor for those who consider it a calling. It is what they do. And all the lives involved in these stories are enriched. It is truly a beautiful thing. 

Author Tia Walker said, “To care for those who once cared for us is the highest honor.” So this labor day I want to personally honor all of the folks who take care of our residents in so many wonderful ways! Your “labor” does not go unnoticed. 

Be Well on Purpose

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