In case you don't know, a Geropsych unit is for mentally ill (often crazy) old people. AMA

Comments: 85 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

XXXPerfectProdigy7 karma


Volunteerta6 karma

I've definitely seen some shit that I didn't anticipate going into it, haha.

chucktownmafia5 karma

What do u think about euthanasia for the people well qualified on the unit

Volunteerta8 karma

Honestly if it is for their benefit, I would agree. If the person doesn't want to live because they are in so much pain and suffering, it is okay in my opinion.

kringlebomb3 karma

Thanks for volunteering! Do you have any uplifting stories? Or are they all sad or wtf?

Volunteerta3 karma

Unfortunately none of the stories I have are super uplifting. I feel sad for all of them, and that's why I try to visit with any that will accept it.

I know most of them are miserable, so that's why I try to keep them company.

I have many stories if any of you want to hear them.

Yohfay2 karma

I work on an inpatient adult psych unit. I don't think I could ever do geropsych because for most of them there will be no getting better. You're doing something that takes a lot of wherewithal.

Volunteerta8 karma

That is the hardest part. Knowing there will be no relief for them. I know hardly any of them get visitors, so I think it's the least I can do to visit them.

Hell, half the time they think they know me. Like I'm their granddaughter, daughter, friend, etc. I just go right along with it.

If I had a dollar for every time I have got called a different name..

W_Shep3 karma

How do you react to them when they're essentially "acting crazy"? Do you act like you also see the things that aren't there? Do you tell them otherwise?

Volunteerta6 karma

Yeah, I just go along with whatever they're doing/saying and I usually milk the shit out of it. Telling them otherwise wouldn't help them at all and probably make them upset.

getur3 karma


Volunteerta7 karma

Only one time a woman grabbed my arm. She did it because I was helping another patient and I heard her saying something behind me but I knew it was just gibberish so I didn't pay her any mind. I guess she thought what she was saying was very important and grabbed the back of my arm pretty hard and yelled for me to listen to her.

It was weird because the next week she was super nice and I talked to her for about an hour.

Thepimpandthepriest2 karma

Is anyone really depressing in the way they are crazy?

Opposite side, is anyone the crazy old coot fun grandpa?

Volunteerta6 karma

There have been a few patients where I'll try to talk to them and keep them company but they want no part of it and are very bitter. It breaks my heart to see that because I just want to try to talk with them and keep them company.

I have dealt with several people who are so crazy they're just fun. The alzheimer's patients are usually the one's like that because they don't remember anything so they just have no cares in the world. haha.

shineblackalgiz5 karma

My grandmother must have the wrong kind of Alzheimers because instead of having "no cares in the world", literally everything upsets her, usually to the point of tears.

Volunteerta3 karma

Yeah it does vary. I've run in to those kinds of Alzheimer's patients.

ivanfca2 karma

Could you say that the treat they get is human? answer this honestly not only by yourself, also by what you've seen.

Volunteerta2 karma

I try to talk to them as if they are 100% normal and nothing is wrong with them. I don't use a baby voice or act like they are stupid like some of the nurses do.

Some of the nurses also could be a little more genuine and caring, but overall they treat them decent.

elrangarino2 karma

So much respect for you guys who volunteer. It is such a taxing environment and very hard to selflessly understand and throw yourself into.

Do you believe your role has changed you? Are there any aspects of the work you don't agree with? What aspects are these.

Thanks again :)

Volunteerta3 karma

Thank you!

It has changed me a little bit. In a way hard to describe. Like I said before, it has just made me appreciate the little things in life and to not complain so much. They would kill to be in my shoes.

There's really no aspect of the work I don't agree with. I think they treat everyone decent. The only thing I would change would be the nurses spend a little more one on one time with them. I realize that's not always possible though.

magdalenmaybe2 karma

Thank you for volunteering. Geropsych is probably one of the most depressing subspecialties one could pick. My mom was put into an elderly psych ward in a hospital, in error we believe, shortly before she died. She was end-stage COPD, but was also anorexic. It was a horrible, scary place, and I still shudder to think of her there.

Why do you do it?

Volunteerta6 karma

I'm sorry to hear about your mom.

I do it because it's rewarding. Even though it makes me sad, it also makes me happy that I can visit with them and even though they probably won't remember our conversation in 10 minutes, it will at least make them happy in the moment and that's all I can ask for.

lesusisjord1 karma

What's the strangest request or just question that's been asked of you by a patient?

Volunteerta8 karma

Oh jeez, there are so many strange questions I get asked. I'll categorize them.

The cutest was when an older man kept asking me to get him a phone and a phone charger because he "needs to be on call" and that he would be there for me if I needed him, so the least I can do is get him a phone.

The strangest question would probably be if I "saw the little boy under the refrigerator"

The strangest request would probably be if I could eat his dinner for him because they are trying to poison him, and it needs to look like he ate it.

lesusisjord1 karma

Thanks for the response and the fast paced AMA you are doing!

Volunteerta3 karma

No problem! I appreciate all the questions.

yeouinaru1 karma


Volunteerta3 karma

I can tell that sometimes they think I'm someone else by the questions they ask me. They'll say something like "are you still working over at (fill in the blank)" I just play along and make up my own answers.

I'll also play along and ask them questions such as "how are the girls doing" or "did you end up going over to (fill in they blank)?" Etc. They will answer me like they knew exactly what I was taking about.

Then sometimes they'll call me different names. One man kept calling me Jackie.

Another man called Shante a couple of times.

epicthinker1 karma

Lets hear your most memorable/crazy story that you can think of..?

Volunteerta5 karma

There was this one woman who I saw walking around the floor so I decided to ask her if she wanted some company. She said yes, so I started walking with her. We had some small talk and she seemed sort of crazy, but I wasn't sure.

There is this wooden railing all along the walls. She ended up stopping and started touching it. I asked what she was doing and she said that it has been leaking all day. I just went along with it and was like, "oh no, we should probably get a maintenance man up here." Then it got weirder.

I had to go help another patient but I told her I would be right back. Once I was done I went to go find her. She was in another patients room (the patient wasn't in there though) and she was just folding the blankets. It was dinner time so I asked her if she wanted to go eat.

She said, "yeah, let me just finish tidying up in here"

I humored her and let her tidy up.

Well, when she was done, she grabbed this cart thing that was in the room that has different supplies in it. She started rolling it out and I said to just leave it in there. I forget what she said, but she said something that lead me to believe she thought the cart was a person.

I said "oh, well let's just leave him in here while we go get some dinner"

She bent down and looked at the cart and said "Do you want to go downstairs and get some french fries, what do you wanna do?"

I didn't know what to do so i just said "Well, he said that he wasn't hungry and he'll wait here while we go eat"

She kept just talking to this cart like it was a little boy. Eventually I convinced her the "he" was going to stay in the room while she ate dinner. that was definitely the weirdest/memorable thing that has happened.

Edit: I also forgot to add that she said "do you want me to take this helmet off of you" like 5 times. Not only did she think a cart was a boy, she thought it was a boy wearing a helmet.

thatoneguyeric1 karma

Do you plan on studying a related field in college?

Volunteerta3 karma

I plan on majoring in Human Biology and then going on to physical therapy school. So not exactly, but it is still giving me the contact with patients and getting me out of my comfort zone. I figured it's setting me up to be able to emotionally deal with seeing people in pain, having to suffer, etc.

thatoneguyeric3 karma

I depoloyed to Iraq as a medic and then became a nurse. I worked on the mental health floor as well as pediatrics. I'm out now. Between the two, deployment was WAY easier. I commend you, my friend.

Volunteerta2 karma

Thank you. I appreciate what you do also.

WhisperShift1 karma

Is there different treatment protocol than a traditional unit because of the advanced age of the people there, such as a greater focus on acceptance vs coping strategies or a difference in when they institute meds because of a more frail body and/or other medications?

Volunteerta1 karma

There are people who come in (I think on their badge it says psychiatric services) and spend time alone with most of the patients, they call them one on ones, and will help them with coping and making sure their condition isn't worsening. They also focus more on the patients that get out of control.

As for the medications, I'm not entirely sure. When I see meds being passed, it doesn't look like anything much different than on any other floor.

aeverro1 karma

What qualifications do you need to become a volunteer at a geropsych unit?

Volunteerta1 karma

None. haha. I literally just signed up.

naturalinfidel1 karma

one of my fears is getting bed sores when i am put in a nursing home. what steps are in place at your facility to put my mind at ease?

Volunteerta3 karma

Since I'm just a volunteer I don't really deal with anything like that. But, most of the patients are able to walk and will take laps around the hospital to just get up and moving. Often times I will walk with them and talk. Sorry I can't answer your question though. :/

Fix_Lag1 karma

What is your worst poo story?

Volunteerta3 karma

I don't have many poop stories, but there was this one patient who shit on his bed because he thought it was the toilet.

DevinJet1 karma

Whats your biggest fear working there?

Volunteerta3 karma

Honestly my biggest fear is having someone charge at me. Sometimes I will see patients just standing in the hall way blankly starring and for some reason in my mind I think "oh shit, they're gonna charge at me"

DevinJet1 karma

do you guys have a protocol if you get charged?

Volunteerta1 karma

Not to my knowledge. At that point I think the staff would just restrain the patient and give them a shot to relax.

Vetivyr_Sky1 karma

This sounds like the saddest place to volunteer at, ever. Does it make you sad/depressed at all? Seeing people who, after a lifetime of hard work, should be able to enjoy retirement but can't because of their mental problems?

Good on you for doing this. I would cry non-stop the entire time.

Volunteerta4 karma

It does make me sad. It especially makes me sad when I see veterans in there. I will usually talk to them about their service and they are more than willing to talk my leg off about it.

There was this one lady who I was having small talk with and I asked her if she was married and if her husband was still alive. She replied with "I'm not sure, my mind isn't the best right now" It absolutely broke my heart.

Happy_Sith1 karma

Has working in this environment changed your view on life, in particular as we approach death?

Volunteerta3 karma

It has changed my view on life, definitely.

It has given me more motivation. Whenever I don't feel like doing something, for example going to the gym, I think about how I am able to go to the gym and I am fully healthy. It makes me much more appreciative for all the things I can do that I often overlook.

It honestly scares me because I may be that way some day if I get alzheimer's or something. It kind of makes you appreciate the little things in life.

DinosaursOvrEvrythng1 karma

How did you end up volunteering there? Are you in school for something similar or do you just like a challenge?

Volunteerta5 karma

I just wanted to get in a medical setting to see if it's really what I want to go into. I'm a senior in highschool right now and I'm looking at physcial therapy for a profession. I also enjoy a challenge, haha.

tejanabena1 karma

Does this unit deal strictly with alzheimer's? Or are you interacting with elderly individuals with disorders like schizophrenia or borderline?

Volunteerta2 karma

It deals with almost everything mental illness wise. I've come across Bipolar patients, schizophrenic patients, alzheimer's patients, and some patients I'm not even sure what they have.

McFly66611 karma

Hey! I also volunteer at a Geropsych facility! In fact, I'm sitting in the therapy room right now waiting for the PT to get here.

How long have you been doing it? What made you decide to volunteer for such a place?

Volunteerta2 karma

I've been doing it for alittle over 4 months now.

I just want to try to cheer them up. I know how miserable they are and if I can help in any way, then not only will I feel rewarded, they will also feel better, only if it's for a few minutes.

SeryaphFR1 karma

Has this experience made you fear growing old?

Has it made you more or less likely to go into the medical field? My father works in Medicine, and although he loves it, I can tell from first hand experience that it weighs down on your soul.

Volunteerta1 karma

It has a little bit. I realize it's the circle of life, but I would be lying if I said it doesn't affect me in that aspect. I fear what I will be like when I'm old and if I will suffer like they do.

So far, I still want to. I have compassion for people and even though it does weigh on you, it is also rewarding when you get the privilege of helping someone.

DocBraz1 karma


Volunteerta1 karma

Since I am just a volunteer I am never certain what exact problems the patients are dealing with since I don't have access to their chart or anything.

I have talked to several veterans and I don't know if they had PTSD or not. Anytime I talk to them about their service they talk my leg off. I wish I could answer your question, but I'm not able to know everything about the patients.

I wish you the best of luck in coping with PTSD though. I realize this is cliche, but if you ever need to talk about anything you can always PM me.

seekayembee1 karma

Is it an acute admissions unit or more like a rehab unit? When I was a nursing student I did prac on an acute geripsych ward which was pretty crazy. The combination of psychosis and dementia gets confusing.

Volunteerta1 karma

To be completely honest I'm not entirely sure. All I ever see is meds being passed. That's why I try to actually visit with them.

Mugiwara041 karma

What kind of relationships do the residents have with each other? Are there pairs or groups of friends who stick together all the time? (I guess this is more a generic question about a psych ward than one particularly about one with older folks)

Do you have any particular favourite people? Most interesting? "Worst"? I don't mean worst in that you would hate or dislike anyone, I guess I mean, "most challenging to deal with".

Volunteerta1 karma

Most of the patients get along with each other. There are a few that I see sort of sticking together. It's precious.

I do have a couple favorites. The geropsych unit isn't something that the patients go to live in for extended periods of time. (there are exceptions though where patients have been there for a while.) But mostly patients will stay there for about a month. I've seen them come and go and most of the patients that I really liked and talked to every time isn't there anymore. It sucks because I don't know where they went or how they're doing.

The most interesting was definitely the woman who thought the cart was a little boy.

Honestly there's not really any that are super hard to deal with. I don't know if it's just because I don't have to have a whole lot of physical contact with them, but I've never encountered a super difficult patient. They all have their moments though.

Mugiwara041 karma

Thanks for answering!

I am glad to hear that the people don't stay there for a long time--I mean, I hope that's a good thing? Do they stay briefly because they are there to get behaviour/symptoms under control, or because it's a money issue and they can't stay longer, or that the facility isn't equipped to keep them long-term?

Volunteerta3 karma

I wish I had an answer to your question :/

I wish I knew too. Since I'm just a volunteer I don't ask the nurses those kinds of things just because I don't want to step over any boundaries.

Mugiwara041 karma

No worries, I'm glad you did this AMA. I think you're pretty amazing for choosing this kind of volunteer work. Keep being the way you are, okay?

Volunteerta1 karma

Thank you! I will try my best :p

Misaniovent0 karma

Have you seen Bubba Hotep?

Volunteerta2 karma

I haven't.

squattmunki-4 karma

Why the fuck would you do that? Crazy old people are WAY worse than the average crazy person. I'm a nurse and you'd have to double my hourly salary for me to think about working there.

beanfarts1 karma

Why the fuck are you a nurse if you have that attitude?

squattmunki2 karma

Until you've literally had to hold a grown man down in the bed (with 4 other nurses) until restraints could be ordered... while he reeks of his own excrement, and is hep c positive don't judge my friend.

Volunteerta1 karma

Then you shouldn't have went into that profession and/or taken a job you knew would entail such behavior from patients.

squattmunki1 karma

Oh, so everyone has to love all aspects of their job 100% of the time? I didn't know that! let me know when you find the person who loves his job all day everyday.

Volunteerta2 karma

If you work on a unit that deals specifically with mentally ill people, and you complain about having to deal with mentally ill people, you probably shouldn't have taken that job knowing good and well what you were going into.