According to the University of Nebraska, service-learning experiences are important for undergraduate health care students. In particular, when students work with older adults, they gain skills and experiences as they engage in intrinsically rewarding service activities. After working with older adults, undergraduates' empathy levels increase and, often, a strong intergenerational companionship develops.
I have definitely developed strong relationships with my older adults clients this summer. During my service learning internship experience with Lori’s Hands, I have made it my goal to make our clients happy and do what ever I can to make their days amazing. I also want to help our clients be aware of their home environments and make their homes safer for them to live in as they age in place. I love working with different clients every day and building great relationships with them.
One of my clients, Ellen*, is married but recently her husband has been admitted into a nursing home. Ellen can no longer provide care for him because he is very ill. On our visits, we help her with grocery shopping, putting away her groceries, and cleaning her kitchen. We also pick up loose papers and items around her living area and put them in safe places that won't put her at risk for a fall. She is always so appreciative of everything we do for her!
Each week, I also visit Edith* to get her groceries. Edith, my volunteer partner Christina, and I discovered that our birthdays are two days apart from each other - we’re all May babies!
I also visit a World War II veteran who looks forward to talking each week, a client living with MS who loves swimming and barbecue sandwiches, and so many other interesting people.
I have loved getting to know our clients this summer and have experienced what the researchers suggested comes from service learning - truly rewarding intergenerational relationships.
Written by: Alyssa Benjamin
Source: Gelfand, Donald E., and James P. Firman. "Developing and Implementing Service-Learning in Aging." University of Nebraska Omaha. Web. 31 May 2016.
*Names changed for privacy