Just a brief intro from Dr. T (and then you’ll hear from Mitch):
Last week the students working on the balance study visited Trinity Rehabilitation Unit. Earlier today we all visited an assisted living facility. Both visits put the students in environments where pretty much everyone was 70 or older, many used assistive devices to walk, and many were at risk for losing their balance and falling. So these visits very much related to one of our research projects. But beyond that, my hope is that these experiences will increase the students’ understanding of the types of challenges that elderly people face in their day-to-day living. As future medical doctors, engineers, and researchers, they are the ones who will develop the innovations that will improve the lives of people living with physical limitations. And many of those people living with physical limitations are elderly. In a culture that values youth and physical accomplishment, not many young people consider working with older people as their life goal. But I figure if they encounter environments that empower and value our senior citizens, they will at least let the thought enter their minds. With that in mind, let me turn things over to Mitch:
We arrived at Senior Star (an assisted living facility) and were eager to get to work.
We entered the lobby and were greeted by several smiling faces. As we proceeded to the dining we were presented with signs for the day’s activities which needed to be colored (I worked on the sign for the basketball game with Mallory and I must say we made one dashing poster). In all, we had eight games which varied from Plinko (my game) to the card game “War” (Theresa’s game).
As the carnival started the elderly guests poured in and began to compete at the many games. After completion of each game the players acquired a sticker to denote achievement of the activity. Once they had received stickers from every game won, the Seniors would head over to claim their choice of candy or nuts.
The competition level of the participants varied from mildly entertained to “hardcore gamer”. Some individuals made it around to the different games more than once. The bean bag toss was probably the most popular; many people where throwing the bag in the hole almost every time.
The research team also tried their hand at some different games. The Styrofoam balls used to play basketball and bowling seemed to be the most popular.
When someone thinks about a senior carnival, they probably think, “how boring.” but this was actually be quite fun. Not only are you helping out in the community but you can feel good about yourself afterward.
It was nice to have the chance to participate in some community service and I’m glad the SAU research institute offered this opportunity.