Teachers and ┬ástaff from the AlzheimerΓÇÖs Association and Sheltering Arms encouraged the middle school students to interact with seniors. The result was that even the patients in the later stages of the disease had their day brightened as they connected with younger people.
“They like that you are here but they just can’t express it,ΓÇ¥ Sheltering Arms Activity Director Elaine Kiehler told the students. ΓÇ£Some can’t form words.”
While interacting with seniors, students lea
rned about AlzheimerΓÇÖs and other forms of dementia. The students were told that typically, AlzheimerΓÇÖs patients may forget names and faces, yet still retain older memories from their past.
ΓÇ£The one thing they do remember is things from the past,ΓÇ¥ Kiehler said.
Sheltering Arms seniors regaled students with stories of their own youth. Maria Gonzalez, a YES Prep student, said she learned a lot during the visit.
“I liked talking to them and getting to know them,ΓÇ¥ she said. ΓÇ£We talked about how they were as a child.”
While the visit may have been for a day, students will take the lessons they learned and apply them to a class assignment in which they will write a poem and submit it to a national AlzheimerΓÇÖs conference for competition in June.
Kiehler also encouraged students to remain interested in helping seniors outside of the classroom.
“When you get into high school and would like to volunteer, we have opportunities here if you would like to spend time with elderly you are welcome to do so,” she said.
For more information about children and AlzheimerΓÇÖs please visit www.alz.org