CAREERS IN NURSING
RESPONSIBLE ADVOCATE: ADON GAINS WISDOM WHILE SERVING ELDERLY
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Tracy Lemons, RN, enjoys taking care of the elderly at Bradford Village in Edmond because it’s one of the few professions in life that allows her the opportunity to be able to make a difference in the lives of people who can no longer fully care for themselves, she said.
“I enjoy listening to their life stories and I gain a lot of wisdom from their experience,” said Lemons, assistant director of nursing at Bradford Village in Edmond. She has been in nursing for more than 25 years.
Lemons became a registered nurse in 1996 and has served the residents’ health care needs at Bradford Village since April.
She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Oklahoma City University’s Kramer School of Nursing in 1996. Before she became a registered nurse, Lemons had worked as a CNA at St. Anthony Hospital in Labor and Delivery. Her experience primed her to become a nurse. She worked as an RN at St. Anthony in rehab and skilled nursing for seven years before accepting a position in a nursing home as nursing director at Edwards Redeemer in Oklahoma City.
“I’m of the impression that the cycle of life — if we are allowed to live out our days — all of us are going to one day be elderly,” Lemons said. “So I know that elderly people are special. They have walked through this life and some of them are now at the end stages. And I think they add a significant value to life.”
She has learned more about different decades of American life through conversations of family life and their careers. Residents also share some of the funniest stories with her.
“I remember when I worked at a home. There was a lady and she was about 89 years old,” Lemons said. “She had a very vivid memory of her past.”
The woman’s father had been a preacher and she loved him. So her father would always try to be perfect.
“She said, ‘I want to tell you this.’ She said, ‘In the end, my father realized his feet were made out of clay just like everybody else’s,’” Lemons said. “So you never forget that your feet are made out of clay.”
It’s stories like that which Lemons gains wisdom as she appreciates the elderly, she said. Lemons also is grateful to work with a group of nurses who are loyal to the residents living at Bradford Village, she said. Part of the mission statement at Bradford Village is when you put the resident first, the bottom line will take care of itself, Lemons said.
“Because we know that, we always want to ensure that we are giving them the best quality of care that we possibly can,” she added.
Lemons spends her leisure time studying God’s word she finds in the Bible. She also listens to music.
There are many career avenues for nurses. And, there are special qualities a nurse needs to work in the field of long-term care. Lemons said the main quality a nurse needs to have is to be a responsible advocate for the elderly, especially with Alzheimer’s disease increasing in scope in the United States. A lot of men and women living with dementia are not able to communicate their needs, she said.
“And so you have to anticipate their needs,” she said. “And try to in some way include them and incorporate them in their plan of care, because I think many times they feel inadequate when their mental abilities are declining. So it’s in those times that nurses need to be an advocate to ensure they receive the highest level of care.”
Both Lemons and the author of this story had a father with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I know the in and the out,” she said. “Sometimes they remember you and sometimes they don’t. And it was very disheartening for me when he didn’t remember who I was.”
Being an advocate encompasses providing a continuity of care, Lemons said. This way a loved one might remember your face in times when they do not recall your name, she continued.
“If you have the same people taking care of them at all times; that is very important,” she said.
Lemons mentioned that the Bible says, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
So when a person becomes seasoned in the cycle of life, Lemons said she has the privilege to care for them and ensure they receive the dignity, respect and the quality of life they deserve during these times of their lives.