My experience at Silver Club was enlightening, to say the least. I feel as if I have been re-taught about aging and illness in a way that one can only learn by experience. I realized that up until volunteering there, I avoided the topic of aging in my head most of the time. Our culture has such an age bias that anyone over the age of forty is seen as irrelevant to modernity, progress, and fulfillment. I want to tell so many people that they are wrong. I want to go on television in a news broadcast and announce to the world that the elderly deserve their place in the media; in conversation. I realized that although I might know more about an iPhone than an 82-year-old, that person knows ten times more about life than me. I could have talked to my Silver Club partner for hours; he always had an interesting story to tell. I heard about his college days, his wife who used to always correct his grammar, traveling abroad, playing in a band, and all sorts of other things.
I also learned about treating human beings like, well, human beings. You can’t assume that because someone has dementia, that they need to be bossed around and worried over like a child. Not only do they deserve more respect, but if you show someone with dementia your true attention and give it a little time, you will see that there is still a strong personality and will in the mind of that person, a mind full of experiences that just need a little prompting to un-tap.
~ Sarah, UM School of Art & Design Student