Below is an post by Megan, a current student in Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts 2015. Megan reflects on what she has learned by working with her community partner. ~Anne Mondro, Professor of Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts.
I am a student at the School of Social Work here at U of M, in the Geriatric Scholar and interpersonal practice program. I first became interested in working with people affected by memory loss when I was a junior in undergrad. I took a course in Aging and shortly after completed an internship in a Memory Care Unit at a local retirement community facility. I took this course, Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts, to learn more about infusing art while working with the older adult population and to also learn about Mild Cognitive Impairment, which was a completely new topic for me. At the beginning of the process when us students were meeting the Coffee House Members I was so taken aback by how willing they were to share about their memory loss. At one of our very first group sessions one of the Coffee House Members said “We are free to forget here”. It really showed me how close the group is and I felt very privileged being allowed to listen to their stories and to be let into their worlds.
The Coffee House Club Member that I work with used to work as a home health aide with older adults, some of which had memory loss. Together her and I are complying a story of vignettes from her life experiences. Lately, my club partner and I have been reflecting on the idea that she has worked with older adults and that working with older adults is the career path I intend on entering. From this discussion, my Coffee House Club Member has been giving me work advice. I would like to share some of my Coffee House Club Member’s advice for working with older adults here: Be kind. Be pleasant. Treat them as if it is you in their situation. Keep a good attitude. Make a joke. Find out what they like. Don’t be afraid to talk to them. Think of ways to make it simpler for her. Go with the flow. Be ready to be their friend.
~ Megan, School of Social Work Graduate Student, U of M