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High five for LTC part 3: Laughter and compassion

March 29, 2011
by Frieda Stewart, RN
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The “High Five for LTC!” are the things that are needed for each of us in this field to get through the day. Thus far we have visited the first three points: courage, love, and passion. Today we will round out the list by examining #4 and #5—laughter and compassion.

4. Laughter. It makes life worth living. As you all know, embarrassment and humility are two things you must be able to enjoy—or at least endure—to work in a long-term care facility. For example:

I was visiting with our dedicated beautician when a sweet female resident pulled up in her wheelchair and asked me if it was her beauty shop day. The hair dresser informed me that her day was on Friday. When I gave her the news, the resident then looked at me and said, “Well, what day is today?” I opened my mouth to reply before realizing I had no idea what day of the week it was. I stared blankly at her as she giggled and said, “Geez, you are not any better off than I am.” We both laughed as she rolled away to find someone who could actually give her the right date.

We have a prescription for a long and happy life: it is laughter. Laughter and joy can reduce stress, decrease your risk of heart attack, and act as a natural tranquilizer. That is something we all need!

5. Compassion. “I am amazed at the compassion that is required of me every day to tolerate in others where I, myself, fall short.” Do we truly realize how many times we are intolerant of those who need us the most? Individuals who, if we really looked, might appear to be just like us. Our aging populace deserves compassion beyond all things. Once they are at the point that they require assistance to the restroom, we must show compassion and understanding. As they need a hug or a listening ear, we must demonstrate compassion to their wishes. At such a time, that they are dying and their loved ones look to us for guidance, we show compassion to a family who is hurting and needs us. We must strive every day to show compassion.

Courage, love, passion, laughter, and compassion—characteristics that each of you possess. Dig down and find these each day to make the life of an elder better!

Author Frieda Stewart, RN, is the Director of Nursing at Corn Heritage Village in Corn, Oklahoma; the owner and CEO of VitalAttitudes, LLC; and a public speaker who travels all across the United States.

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Author Frieda Stewart, RN, is the Director of Nursing at Corn Heritage Village in Corn, Oklahoma...