Friday, November 29, 2013

School-Healthcare Volunteer Partnerships: Students Help Hospice Patients and Families (Video 1:46)

Most young people have no idea what hospice means or what role they can play in improving lives of terminally ill patients and their families. When partnerships take place between schools and healthcare organizations such as hospice, there are several bonuses. In addition to improvement of academic and affective skills, students become more familiar with aging, illness, caregiving, death, and grief. They also learn about career choices they may not have considered. Patients and families benefit from the many services these young volunteers can provide.

Some hospices and other healthcare facilities have teenage volunteers doing 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.

My earliest memory of feeding a nursing home patient was not after I became an adult hospice volunteer. It was during my high school days when I joined a school club that encouraged me to make a positive difference in people's lives through service. Cleveland High School art students share a partnership with Hospice of Chattanooga that also creates service opportunities. In this video, students create ceramic hearts for hospice families. The hearts serve as symbols reminding families of their deceased loved ones. Grateful heart recipients have the support of knowing that students cared enough about their healing to make special hearts to connect with theirs.

Note: Winner of the National Service-Learning Partnership Trailblazer Award, Frances Shani Parker, a national service-learning consultant and former school principal, has been instrumental in implementing service-learning in school districts across the country. Her book includes a chapter on intergenerational partnerships between schools and nursing homes.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Long-Living Older Adults: Health and Retirement Research, Video 4:46

Louisiana Hines, America’s oldest African American at age 113, died this year.

If you’re an aging boomer or older, you may have started thinking about your bucket list and your mortality in general. For example, if you buy certain long-term items like beds and appliances, you may think about buying those that will “take you on out.” For some of you, that future time will be much longer than you anticipate. You could belong to a group of older adults who are the exceptionally long-lived. Who are these people living in their late 90's and beyond?

According to research on older Americans, the exceptionally long-lived have these characteristics:

      1) They are relatively healthy and high functioning for most of their lives.
      2) They experience health declines only upon reaching maximum longevity.
      3) Although many individuals reach maximum longevity in a state of poor health and functioning,
  exceptional survivors remain healthy and high-functioning even in very old age.

Is 90 really the new 70? With more and more people living in their 90's, it’s one of the fastest growing age groups. This video introduces you to older adults being photographed and interviewed. Having a ball with life while living in their 90’s, they think getting old is just a state of mind.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.