Sunday, November 25, 2012

Intergenerational Holiday and Year-Round Healthcare Volunteer Service (Video 1:58)

Holidays are great times for intergenerational partnerships between young people and older adults. Both groups can benefit from positive activities that bring them together. Negative stereotypes about older adults can be present in children as young as three years old. While children also learn negative stereotypes from the media and from observing how others treat older adults, they can learn many positive lessons about them through their early personal interactions. Older adults often enjoy these connections that broaden their knowledge, help with caregiving, and lift their spirits.

When intergenerational partnerships take place in the healthcare arena, there are added bonuses. Children become more familiar with specifics of aging, issues of illness, caregiving challenges and rewards, and career choices they may not have considered. Most young people have no idea what hospice organizations do or what role they can play in improving the quality of life for terminally ill patients.

Some healthcare facilities have teenage volunteers who can do the following assignments:

1. Perform in-office work including filing, faxing, and preparing admission packets.
2. Host tea parties, movies, and other social events at nursing homes.
3. Provide one-on-one time and attention by reading to, writing letters for, playing games with, or simply talking and listening to patients.
4. Videotape, record, or make booklets of patients’ life reviews.
5. Assist families with yard work, cleaning out the garage, planting flowers, small paint jobs, and home-building projects (i.e. wheelchair ramp).
6. Assist patients and families by doing errands, walking dogs, picking up groceries, etc.

In this video, student volunteers at Liberty Hospice in Whiteville, NC decorate dozens of Christmas ornaments for hospice patients.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and other countries and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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