By: Symone Weston, Hebrew Home Summer Intern
I have visited many nursing homes so when I decided to work at one I did not expect much. Arriving at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale my expectations were immediately surpassed I realized the Hebrew Home is an exciting place because there is always something for the residents to do. Whether going outside, dance classes or creating in the art studio, when I see the residents partake in these activities, it reminds me that they are more than their age. The biggest lesson I took out of my time at the Hebrew Home is getting older is not a bad thing. Getting older just means that you become more lively, wise and talented.
When I work in the wellness department, we have dance classes. During these dance classes, particularly at River Walk, there is a resident named Lillian who is filled with so much life! The dances are done in a chair for safety reasons. However, since Lillian can stand, she does every so often when she is feeling the music. Her face lights up with a big smile and she pops out of her seat and dances like nobody is watching. Anytime Lillian would get up and dance I would dance as well. You can feel the good energy which is so contagious.
We hand out maracas so that the residents can shake them while dancing, when it is time to collect them, Lillian is kind enough to help. She is truly someone who is lively and inspires me to be more carefree.
Since older adults have seen and been through so much, their mind is filled with wisdom. One Wednesday I was recruited to help a resident named Mattie hang pictures around her room. As I was helping her, she told me stories about her life; her regrets, her happiest moments and her accomplishments. Mattie encouraged me to travel. She has been to places like New Mexico, Florida and North Carolina. Through those experiences, Mattie told me she learned so much about the world and people. Mattie also emphasized the fact that she appreciates her independence. She showed me pictures of her in nice fur coats and pretty pocket books on her arms all paid for by herself. In telling me this, I digested the importance of independence. Mattie is 80 years of age and told me she wants to still travel. When she gets out of her wheelchair she plans on going back to North Carolina where she will rekindle relationships with friends and family. Mattie has encouraged me to travel, Since I have already traveled outside the State of New York, my goal is to travel out of the country when I am 21. Thanks Mattie!
When I go to the art studio I am constantly amazed. I ask the residents how long they have been painting and usually they tell me a month or so. For people who have been painting for a couple of months, they create intricate pieces. One resident we refer to as “Doc” painted a beautiful elephant. It was a lovely brownish orange color and the elephant was standing on green grass. Another resident painted a bird. She got inspiration from a picture of a red bird but instead she painted it magenta which made the bird stand out more. The picture also included a tree branch which the bird was standing on. I also see residents bead pretty necklaces and bracelets. Most of them told me they weren’t into crafting but now they are, which goes to show that it is never too late to develop a new talent. I can’t do much artistically especially with a paintbrush but seeing the resident’s artwork is motivation for me to keep trying so that I can get better.
All in all, my experience at the Hebrew Home has shown me that we are more than our age. No matter what age you are turning, just remember to live life to the fullest and know that your age can’t hinder you from having a good time whether that be going out to meet new people, developing a new talent or dancing like no one is watching.