Phenomenal . . .

Phenomenal . . .
Life, Growth, and Connection (This sunflower was nourished by my hands.) 2010; Photography by Benita Blocker. Please become a follower of this blog.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hair Career: Hairdresser for the Elderly

 Hair by Benita Blocker.  Thanksgiving this year was quite different for me.  Last year, I was working at the nursing home servicing some of my elderly residents.  As you can imagine, nursing homes never close. This year, the company decided to eliminate all the hairdresser positions.  Now, only independent contractors will offer hair services to the residents.  So I had more free time this holiday season, and it gave me time to reflect.
When I began my career at the nursing home, I attended training sessions on dementia.  The company had a "dementia" specialist on staff that had developed a series of training classes.  I learned to communicate with dementia patients in order to calm them and make them feel safe.  I learned body positioning. I learned to understand their world.
Hair by Benita Blocker

These skills came in handy for the seven years that I serviced the elderly.  Although, the pay was no where near my corporate engineering salary, I enjoyed making the elderly feel good about their clean head and their fresh hairdo.  When I had to transport them to their rooms, I got to see all of the pictures of their younger years and their families.  It is amazing to see that one day if we live long enough, pictures may be the only thing showing proof of our youth.

Hair by Benita Blocker

As for the short term residents that I serviced, some had been in the hospital so long prior to getting to the nursing home, a relaxing shampoo service was like "heaven" to them.  I remember so many times that the patients/residents touched my hand at the end of their hair service and just said "Thank you."  Seeing a client just smile after you made their day so much better is worth more than words could ever say.  I missed that connection.

However, what I do not miss, are the times when the residents were physically not able to bend back into the shampoo bowl.  Sometimes the wheelchairs prevented the residents from being able to receive a good shampoo.  Sometimes, so many needed hair appointments, but I had to be careful not to overexert myself because the company did not care if you injured yourself.

Hairdressing for the elderly is a specialized area of the hair industry.  Some say it's "a calling."  It is NOT a glamourous job.  Sometimes, your residents expire, but you do not want them expiring during their hair service visit.  Because of the physical toil that working with the elderly can have on your body, part-time hours are the best way to go as to not get burnt out.

Click for Nursing home video footage


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