Elder mentors foster intergenerational communication

Young mentors are creating innovative new approaches to eldercare that are true to family values and built on a solid foundation making elders feel at home. Snider, pre-kindergarten student, banters with Mr. Grandpa during book reading time at the Methodist nursing home. Snider met Mr. Grandpa in August as school began. An observer may even think they are family.

Through an innovative program at Clinton Public Schools, pre-kindergarten students are gaining first-hand experience of developing friendship and family relationships with nursing home residents. Snider hugs and greets Grandpa before choosing a chair. Snider leans close to Mr. Grandpa on the arm of the wheelchair to hear the story. Snider’s eyes glisten, excited to have a few personal moments with Mr. Grandpa. As the story continues, Mr. Grandpa reaches to hold Snider’s hand. For a few moments, Snider experiences love, kindness, gratitude and commitment from an aging Mr. Grandpa.

Mr. Grandpa has experienced a lot of change in his lifetime. After reading Mr. Grandpa and Snider exchange stories of life, relationships, weather and general information. A time of sharing; memories formed; never to be forgotten.

Gail Wilcox, Ombudsman Supervisor, encourages all individuals to select a resident in a facility near home to mentor and offer interaction. Mr. Grandpa always reminded Snider to listen to his parents and to love his grandparents. Students interacting with institutional residents provide a changing life experience for all parties concerned.

For information about services for area aging, please contact Gail Wilcox, SWODA AAA ombudsman supervisor, 800-627-4882, ext. 132, or by email at gail@swoda.org.

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