Horizon Home Care interviews with Chase Permenter, a previous Naval Hospital Corpsman stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a geriatric caretaker.
Q: So what did you do?
A: I was a leading petty officer – helping run the clinic, deciding which corpesmen would be with which patients, and what the care programs for each patient would look like. Most of what we did would be based on their vitals, their recent bloodwork, things like that. Things we were trying to improve. We made home visits, making sure that their space/home was suitable living, general home care services. Old people want their independence, and sometimes they’re not really capable of doing that in a safe and healthy way, so ya know, we would have to go there and make sure they were okay and make sure they were self-sufficient. 

Q: What was being an aide like for you? 
A: I found a lot of joy in it. I really appreciated helping my elders and ya know, just letting them know that people still cared about them, because I feel like a lot of the times, they feel like they’re taken for granted and that their wisdom isn’t worth anything. I would listen to them. I would always listen to them and just let them know they were being heard. That was rewarding for me. Just seeing that they felt recognized I guess.
Q: What was the most difficult part of the job for you?
A: The most difficult part of the job was just dealing with aging, getting old, mortality. Seeing how it manifested in their faces when they couldn’t remember what day it was or what they did that morning. Helping them come to terms with that, trying to help them remember. Trying to comfort them as much as you can because, I mean, I can’t think of anything more uncomfortable than not being able to remember what you did that same morning. It was hard watching them get older and seeing them face and have to accept that reality. 

Q: Did you ever overcome that feeling?
A: I don’t really know if I ever got over it. I just recognized it for what it was and tried to make the best of it with them. Whether that was playing dominos, bathing them, or just trying to reassure them and let them know that it would be okay. It was always hard. There was never a moment where it stopped affecting me, it was always difficult when it happened. 

Q: What would you say is the most important part of caring for someone? 
A: I would say warmth; I would say just being thoughtful and compassionate; trying to engage the patient in a way that brings them into the moment and is entertaining. That’s the best part, if you can engage with your patient and help them be present and enjoy the moment. 

Q: How involved were the patients in creating the protocol for their own care programs?
A: Probably as much as a CDPAP program calls for over other senior home care services. It really depended on what they would want to do. We would accommodate as best we could. For the patients we had outside of the clinic, we would go over there, take their vitals and everything. If they had anything out of the ordinary that they wanted we would try to do it. We would count and administer their medications. And then after we did everything we had to, we would hang around to spend time with and talk to them. 

Q: Did you ever feel like you wish you had more time? 
A: I remember Mr. Roberto. He was this karate teacher in Cuba and he always had interesting stories. And, ya know, he was living by himself for the most part, besides our visits. So I always made it a point to see him a couple of times a day because I knew he was lonely. I would make the effort to try to spend more time with him. If i knew that a patient was a little down, I would definitely make an effort to spend more time with them. 
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