Teens Learn From Serving Seniors
This week we are pleased to welcome a guest blog from Vivette with Vibrant Home Health in Dayton, OH.
Here is her story:
Growing up as a pastor’s child I can remember the members of our church visiting senior care facilities once a week. While these visits often occurred when I was at school, during the summer months I would occasionally attend to assist with the service. As a teenager, I never dreamed I would be the one gaining a valuable experience from the visits. Rather, I thought I was doing something for the residents who were “shut-ins” and not able to attend a church service. In my mind, I was helping them.
“Visits are equally as important for the teenager as for the elder.”
Last year my nephew started volunteering with the Alzheimer Project at a respite program in Florida. As my sister and I discussed stories of their visits, it occurred to me that the visits were equally as important for the teenager as the elder. This became even more apparent when my nephew documented what he learned from the visits. His story went on to be published in the local newspaper and to win 2nd place in a literary contest.
Here is what my nephew learned in his own words.
Get More Than You Bargained For: Help Alzheimer Patients
Author: Perry O’Connor
Being an active citizen of any community means putting part of yourself aside in order to help others. Every other Friday, I set aside my schoolwork and screen time to spend an hour and a half helping to teach and entertain early-dementia patients at the Alzheimer Project’s St. Paul’s respite program.
Volunteering with the Alzheimer Project has helped me develop a working level of compassion. Every minute I’m volunteering, I’m showing the patients that they are our guests and I want to make them happy. Sometimes this involves reading them a storybook or telling jokes. Sometimes it’s helping them learn a new game, or refresh an old one like tic-tac-toe. And sometimes, it’s just making eye contact and listening to a story they want to tell me. Regardless of the style of my service, it is always based around adding quality to their lives.
Another thing I like about working at the Alzheimer Project is getting to know people who are different from me, in age, race, and life experiences. Some people might think Alzheimer patients have nothing to offer our community, but I don’t believe that. The patients at the Project are from all walks of life. They are former professors, waitresses, stay-at-home moms, and athletes who have lived interesting, full lives, and by taking the time to listen to them, I’ve developed an appreciation for all people.
I recognize that my volunteer time might not change the world and its attitude towards Alzheimer’s, but it is my hope that it improves the lives of those who show up every Friday to spend time with their peers. Becoming a better citizen starts at home, in your neighborhood, beginning with the little things and spreading like wildfire.