Senior shows he cares
Elton Richardson can’t imagine life without music.
The 67-year-old hasn’t stopped performing since he started singing in church at the age of five.
He’s now an elder caregiver, who loves singing to his clients.
“I come from a musical family,” said Mr Richardson, who retired after a 45-year career with Cable & Wireless in 2015. “I sing whatever is cheerful. I don’t have any favourites. I just sing whatever comes to mind.”
He got into healthcare after he almost lost his leg to diabetes.
“I’ve had chronic diabetes for 35 years,” he said. “At 57 I developed a diabetic ulcer on my left leg and spent six months in hospital.
“I bounced back, but a year later to the day I was back in hospital with an ulcer on my right leg.
“They were talking about amputating. My life certainly flashed before my eyes. I spent another six months in the hospital.”
He learnt as much as he could about his illness, carefully questioning doctors about everything.
“I wanted to learn,” he said. “Towards the end of my treatment I was so impressed by my care, I wanted to become a caregiver. I’d already cared for my father [James Richardson] and sister at the end of their lives.” He signed up for a course at the Bermuda College a few days after he was released from hospital.
“I was still on crutches,” he said.
Medicine had always been a dream of his.
He wanted to become a doctor while growing up on Knapton Hill, Smith’s.
“I was the youngest of seven children,” he said. “There is an eight-year gap between me and the sibling before me. So my parents were older. I don’t think they encouraged me enough.”
He was a model pupil and became a certified caregiver in 2009.
“I was extremely successful,” he said. “I didn’t miss a beat. I enjoyed it tremendously and passed top of the class.”
He then joined Agape House as a nurse’s aide.
“I was still working part-time for Cable & Wireless and was on call at Agape House,” he said. “Working with terminally ill patients was a good experience. It helped me to deal with death. It opened my eyes and helped me to accept people who are at the end of their lives.”
Then two years ago he was visiting a friend at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital when his career path took another turn.
“My friend was about to be released and needed a full-time caregiver,” he said. “I said, ‘Why not?’ I’ve been working as a full-time caregiver ever since. I have two clients right now and work seven days a week. At the age of 67 I find myself constantly busy. I don’t have any idle time.”
He’s found the job to be deeply rewarding.
“It is great just being able to be there and help someone in their time of need,” he said. “All my jobs have had something to do with customer services.
“I believe in doing 110 per cent for people. I treat people the way I would want to be treated, and I find people are very appreciative.”
Many of his patients have diabetes, and he tries to inspire them with his own experience.
“In ten years, I haven’t had any major health crisis. I try to watch what I eat very carefully and take care of myself.”
He’s held a fundraising concert on his birthday each year since he turned 60. This year he raised funds for Marsden Methodist First United Church.
“I do it at that time because both of my health crises happened around my birthday [May 1],” he said. “I started going there full-time in 2000, not long after my father died. I love singing there and fellowshipping with members. My concert was called ‘How Can I Say Thanks’, because my church family have been so supportive.”
He hasn’t finished tallying the funds yet, but thinks he raised more than $3,000. Mr Richardson has two sons, Kenrick and Lynwood, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
•Lifestyle profiles senior citizens in the community every Tuesday. To suggest an outstanding senior contact Jessie Moniz Hardy: 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Have on hand the senior’s full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them
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