Let’s get the most common one out of the way: We change diapers.
We also brush their teeth, bathe them, feed them, help them change clothes, etc. We assist them with just about anything they request (be it safe for them and within legal/monetary/moral limits).
Sometimes they hit us. Why? Usually they have some form of dementia. They do not understand what is happening and they freak out. Or other times they can be alert and oriented but they are angry that they are “a fucking vegetable now”. So they lash out. (I like to believe that they usually feel bad about this afterwards– regardless of mental state.)
Other times, they say thank you.
After a while of having you as an aide they build a relationship with you and form trust. After all, you see them naked on a daily basis and you are literally the hand that feeds them. They start to tell you their life stories (if they remember them). You meet family members as time goes on and they make their daily, weekly, monthly, yearly visits.
A resident starts to love you. You hold their hand when they are scared and hug them when they cry. They make a place in your heart. They become unofficial family members.
That’s the thing about being a CNA. It’s hard work. Nothing is glamorous. You are underpaid and overworked. But you aren’t a CNA for the wages. You are a CNA because of those relationships that you crave so much. You have so much love in your heart that you have to spread it around.
CNA to CNA: We are tough outside but soft on the inside.