For each clinical rotation my school requires a certain amount of hours for community observation. This term, for geriatric focused Med-Surg, I had 15 hours due. This needed to consist of two separate days at two different places to get a feel for what services are available to geriatric patients, differences between assisted living and skilled nursing, and more. For my first day of observation my friend Vanessa and I headed over to Orange Senior Center, not knowing anything about it.
I have grown up in Orange, even going to school right by the circle, and in all those years I never saw the senior center. We were greeted with a warm welcome and saw the daily schedule. Man, they pack their days full. It's really great how they offer a variety between games, educational classes, movie day, outings, social time, and specialty classes i.e. line dancing. We waited as seniors were beginning to arrive and chatted away with those that were there. One man was too cute for words. Everytime he walked by us he had a joke to tell. " You are looking good....almost human!" or "So you are a gal and a qt.....does that make you a gallon and a quart?" Ah, that one took me a minute to figure out but he did have me laughing.
We were encouraged to just "observe" their Bingo game. Apparently they get a little intense so the director thought it would be best for us to sit off to the side. I'm glad we did! Their Bingo is hard!!! All these crazy lines they have to make and it's a whole different lingo....bingo lingo ;) I really enjoyed watching them play ...they were having a ball. The prizes were pretty awesome. Fresh fruits, veggies, flowers, and pastries. For some seniors they may not have the funds to purchase fresh food, so how great that they offer them as the prizes. After Bingo we helped set up for movie day. Can you guess the movie? Sister Act.....on VHS! Woooooo!!! Vanessa and I were pumped since we haven't seen it probably since 6th grade or so. There was a group of Jr High kids who were volunteering for the day and not one of them had heard of the movie. Seriously?! Wow, I just aged myself.
After the movie was their lunch hour so we snuck out for our own. The afternoon for them consisted of bridge, chess, and pinnucle games. Followed by line dancing lessons if interested. I was put to shame in that class. Let me tell you, they are good! I mean I hope I can move like some of those woman when I am 65 and older! We were able to have some great conversations in the afternoon too. I met the sweetest lady only to find out she was a young nurse in World War II! And, her family was Jewish. She even spoke to us in Yiddish as she told stories of things her mom and grandma would say to her. She told stories of being a nurse through the years. How changing beds they would drop a quarter on the sheets and if it didn't bounce back up, they needed to be re-done. She also told us how she had polio as a young girl and scoliosis set in her spine. The doctors did not know how to treat it, so they put her in a full body cast for 5 months. They noticed it helping so repeated for another five months. 5 years later, she was done with a full body cast and fully able to walk with a straight spine. Amazing.
I went into this community experience just wanting to have my hours done so I could finish my homework. But I had a wonderful time. I learned from their experiences. I loved hearing their stories. And I now plan on going back there on my own time just to spend a few hours with them. If you are looking fr volunteer work or a chance to give back to the seniors in our community, swing on by the Senior Center!