Bracelets Give A Hope For a Change
It’s time to make a change! Seniors living isolation is an issue that all of us should be aware of. In my previous posts, “Elderly Living in Isolation” and “Home For The Isolated,” I talked about elders that live in isolation and things that we could do to help them. As part of my research, I went to NewCourtland, a senior home that interacts with their residents and makes their lives better every day. I left the home knowing that seniors are part of our community, and just like children, we should take care of them. Along with this, I interviewed Gail Kass, the president and CEO of this amazing home. She told me about the experience at NewCourtland and said: “The hope I have for the life they have here is to try to give them a quality of life, try to make them feel independent as possible, safe, fed, happy, and clean.” I went to NewCourtland and Mrs. Kass’ words reflected everything I had seen that day. I was happy to know that someone cared about senior citizens and was willing to try to make their lives better.
Have you ever felt that you are on your own and that no one is there for you when you need them the most? That’s how people that live in isolation feel. Loneliness can lead to depression, and even suicide. As part of my research, I informed people about this problem, as well as showed my support for helping this issue. I know that I can not make families decide what they will do to care for elders, but I can at least create the doubt over deciding whether or not the family should send the elder to a retirement home. I also have the power to make sure senior citizens feel loved and appreciated. For all this to happen, I decided for my agent of change, how I can make change, I would create bracelets of hope that would spread a message to all of the seniors who receive it. This will help show support and love from teenagers.
A picture of the bracelets
At first, the bracelets were a failure, they were very hard to make. The material would get tangled and it would take around 50 minutes to create one bracelet. I made 10 bracelets, and when I tested the bracelets, all of them broke. I was frustrated because I did not know what to do. It had taken me two weeks to make those bracelets. But then, I found out that waxed cotton cord can be really helpful. I went to every craft store near my house, and could not find the waxed cotton cord. I was ready to give up until I found it online and bought it. I brought ten yards of waxed cotton cord and started making new bracelets that were way easier to make. The bracelets took only 15 minutes to make.
A picture of the original bracelet
After a good amount of work, I finished my bracelets and got on the road to begin boxes. The boxes were 5 x 5 inches and made out of paper. They were super cool to make! Since I was almost done, I decided to include a small message in the box, which said, “I want you to know that someone out there cares.” I made 7 boxes and gave them out to my close friends to spread the message of support to elders who live in isolation. I heard some of my friends say, “Who am I going to give this to?” others said, “I’ll give it to my grandma.” I was delighted to hear that many thought about neighbors and friends, which was just my intention and an incredible way to spread the message.
A picture of the boxes
Since everybody I knew got a bracelet of hope and gave it to someone they loved, I decided to make one for myself and my neighbor. My neighbor is an incredible lady who I just met. I was walking and when I saw her, I knew that she deserved a present. I went home and made her a bracelet for her and me. When I gave her the bracelet, her smile was one of the most wonderful things I’ve seen in my short life. I saw her eyes and I felt the joy, I couldn’t stop smiling. Even though I could not take a picture with her, I am glad that I got a smile from her.
A small message to the receivers of the box Friends showing love and appreciation.
A picture of my friend’s grandma wearing My teacher and a student showing support to seniors that
the bracelet live in isolation
I learned that small things can mean a lot to other people, things as small as a “good morning” or even a “hi” can make someone’s day. Making someone happy makes you feel happy, and that's when you notice that there is hope to be better and change someone’s world. Now, I appreciate every single moment I spend with my family. I expected to have enough time to make more bracelets, but I would not have imagined that I would face numerous obstacles. Living in isolation is something that no one wants and it is our duty as members of a society to help anyone who lives in isolation to feel loved and appreciated no matter what race, gender, or age they are.
Eli: (Excited) Welcome to another wonderful evening at the The Book Report. My name is Eli Lerner and this evening we have two special guests: Fionn and Margie from the local high school, Science Leadership Academy.
Today we will be discussing the book “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky Hey guys welcome to the show, we are excited to have you here today!
Fionn: Thank you for having us here
Eli: How are you guys doing tonight?
Margie: I am excited to be here tonight
Fionn: Well my day has been uneventful
Eli: Fionn and Margie are two students that read “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. What do you guys think about the book?
Fionn: The book is amazing!
Margie: One of the best books I’ve read so far.
Eli: Explain why both of you enjoyed it so much.
Margie: I enjoyed this book because it is written from a teenager’s perspective and some teenagers could relate to Charlie’s story. I loved how it was written, in the letter format and how the story is informal.
Fionn: I enjoyed this book because the characters were all teenagers and I could relate to this age. I also enjoyed reading all the things Charlie went through and trying to relate and comprehend the traumas he experienced.
Eli: Would you guys give us a brief summary of the book?
Margie: The book is about Charlie, a teenager that writes letters to the reader. Charlie struggled through social awkwardness, and as we find out later in the book, many experiences that clearly scarred him for life. He writes to his friend about his day, his feelings and his past
Fionn: In those letters he writes about his first days at High School and how he meets his first and only friends, Sam, Patrick, and Mary Elizabeth.
Eli: I have some questions for you about the book.
Fionn: Ok I am excited to answer in the best way I can
Margie: Sure, i’m ready
Eli: My first question is, what do you think of the plot? Did you think it was an exciting read or did you think it was underwhelming and sluggish?
Fionn: I was not expecting to read some of the stuff I read liked Charlie getting raped by his Aunt Helen. I thought it was an exciting read I thought the book was very eventful.
Margie: I think that the ending was really exciting and traumatizing. It was hard for me to understand the way Charlie was reacting to this type of experiences, but he just talks about it as a simple thing.
Eli: Do you think Charlie had a damaged childhood or life in anyway? Explain your reasoning.
Fionn: Yes, I do think that Charlie has had a damaged childhood. So many terrible things happened to him, like being raped by his Aunt, witnessing a rape, and many more traumatizing things. I just feel that these things damage a kid.
Margie: Definitely! I think that Charlie had a tough childhood. The death of his Aunt affected him the most. He remembers her as a lovely lady and not as what she actually was. He might feel this way because at some point on the book he says that his aunt died in a car crash when she was going to buy him a birthday present. The feeling of guilt might have changed the feelings he had for his aunt.
Eli: Thank you both for coming on to the show with me tonight.
Margie and Fionn: Thank you for having us.
Eli: Later tonight we have Stan Lee on the program to talk about the evolution of the Marvel franchise.
As you may remember from my last post , elders living in isolation is something that concerns me. Humans often start a new part of their life when they realize that they are getting old and that they are alone. As part of my investigation, I contacted Gail Kass, the President and CEO of NewCourtland Senior Services. Their mission is “providing affordable housing and services for low-income seniors in Philadelphia.” After the interview with Ms. Kass, I learned about the importance of helping others and how wonderful it is to make someone feel like at home.
Ms. Kass said that the first activity that the residents do is start their morning with a warm breakfast in the dining room. Then throughout the day, the residents do activities like play Bingo, got to the nursery room, exercise, work on music and art projects, or stay in their rooms as they wish. The building is divided into two sections with 60 beds in each section. There are double rooms and each room has the capacity of two patients per room, a little setup, beds, bathroom, and a closet Three warm meals are served throughout the day. I asked her: “To what extent did the patients leave the facility ?” She said, “There are three main reasons why the patients would leave our facility and it is to visit their doctors, go on trips, and when the families pick them up.” Ms. Kass said that they often go on trips to the museums, such as, the flower show, restaurants, outdoors, and their favorite place, the dollar store.
This is a picture of seniors eating at a dining room. That’s how it looks like at Germantown Home
I was impressed by all of the amazing activities the staff at Germantown Home do for their residents. It is clearly that Germantown Home is a safe place to live. In my interview, we also talked about how some of the patients had a tough life, a lack of education, and how some don’t have families. As soon as Ms. Kass told me that some of them had a tough life, I asked her “How do you think the majority of patients here feel about their lives? How would you describe their levels of happiness or isolation?” Ms. Kass responded, “They live happily, we provide them with what they need. They feel lucky to be here. Others feel miserable and angry with their lives.” I also asked her, “What was her hope for them?” She said, “Trying to give them a quality life, make them feel as independent as possible, make them feel safe and happy, and make sure they are part of a clean environment.”
After the interview, Ms. Kass arranged a tour for me at Germantown Home. On Monday, March 12th, 2018 at 9:00 AM, I was at the doors of Germantown Home. As soon as I got there, the first thing I noticed was how clean the place was and the odor of the place was pleasant. Ms. Kass told me that the Assistant Home Administrator, Ludmila Kovatcheva, would be taking me on the tour. I met with Ms. Kovatcheva and we sat down, she said the exact same words to me that Ms. Kass had said during the interview. I immediately knew that both ladies are passionate and respectful of their job. We started the tour on the second floor, Ms. Kovatcheva took me to the calendar, which was very specific about the daily activities that were going to be held each day of the month. The activities for that day were dance music and movement, puzzle club, soothing sounds, ball toss, table games, and a hair salon. Also on each floor, they have a command center that has a clear view from the hallways
As we continued the tour, Ms. Kovatcheva took me to the dining room, where the residents were happily waiting for their dance and movement activities. Then, she took me to the nursery room. I was surprised when I went in there. The room was spacious, it was filled with light, it had a fish tank, and a crib with dolls. Ms. Kovatcheva told me that most of the residents spend their time there. The experience was amazing, I loved it. Also, there are kiosks on the walls, Ms. Kovatcheva told me that all of the residents’ activities are recorded in those kiosks. The reason why they have that is to keep a record of the medicines that the residents take, the time they spend doing activities, so if their doctor or family want to see their medical record, it would be available for them all the time.
In the outside of every room, there is the information of both residents. The information talks about their hobbies, family, and about their life before Germantown Home. After I read a couple, I asked Ms. Kovatcheva “What do you do for the residents who loved their careers and that now feel like they are not able to practice them again?” She said that they try to incorporate some of the activities they used to do. For example, if one of them loved horses, of course, they can not bring a horse to the building, but a solution would be to watch a show based on horses.I was really happy to know that they also conduct a therapy with a dog. Studies show that pets can be really helpful for seniors who live in isolation. Living in isolation is something that Germantown Home is aware of, they try to keep their residents as busy as possible. They have a huge program known as the comfort and joy program. The program is allied with kids from the area that come in once a week and create beautiful murals that will decorate the building.
The tour was about to end and I could not leave without asking “How do you guys deal with the death of one of your residents?” It was a really hard question to ask. I was getting sentimental and Ms. Kovatcheva said that a funeral is held as the resident wished. They make a memorial time for the resident who passed away with their peers, staff, and family. As I was heading to the exit, something caught my attention, there was a big blanket covering one of the beds, even when I did not know what was happening, I asked Ms. Kovatcheva, “What was going on?” She said that a lady had passed away that morning.
I left the place and felt really happy to know that there are senior homes like Germantown Home who really care for their residents. I’m not sure what I am going to do to make a change, but for now, I am thinking about bracelets of hope. I will try to give out as many as I can to spread the word that just like kids need from our society, seniors need from our society too.
When I was a toddler, a 64 year old woman took care of me. She was married and had three children, two boys and a girl. Many years later, her children married and had their own children. One of those kids is my cousin. My cousin was the lady’s company until my cousin had to leave her. One day my mom called the lady and she asked to talk to me. We talked for a good half an hour. She told me about her life and how she missed me. I told her that I held her to a very high esteem. As we were talking, it was really sad when she “wished her family could visit her”. The last time I talked to her was two years ago. Now, I understand that she feels lonely and isolated from her family. I used to call her grandma and she was really nice to me. Then, I realized that many people might feel isolated from the world and others might realize that they are alone and old.
I want to help people who feel lonely, therefore I researched what was like to live in isolation. Seniors who live in isolation are in the ages of 65 and older, most of these seniors don’t have any kids meaning that there is no one looking after them. Feeling isolated can affect them both physically and mentally. Seniors that live in isolation often experience elder abuse, seniors who are part of the LGBT community fall on the range of seniors that are isolated the most. Living in isolation can cause depression, high blood pressure, and long-term illnesses. Also, elders who feel isolated tend to be pessimistic about their future. All these things are something our community should be worried about. One day far from this one I would not like to feel like that. If I get to feel like that I will want someone to help me go through that moment in my life.
This is a picture of an elderly woman sadly looking out of the window. What could she be thinking? Is she waiting for someone? Is she hoping someone will visit her?
The website Senior Advice provides a video of two elders,Roy Croucher and Margaret Nickless. They talk about how it is like to feel that they are old and lonely. In the video, Margaret talks about how sad it is to realize that when you get home the only thing you see are “empty rooms”. Roy follows up with that and says that every Saturday night he waits for a call “sitting down near to the phone so I can answer right away”. Roy gets a phone call once in while from volunteers at the senior center he goes to. When he gets that phone call he claims that it might be the only call he could get in a day Like Margaret, he also talks about realizing that his house is empty. Adding to that Roy says that sometimes he waits for his dead wife to cross the door, but he knows that it will never happen. Their situation is really sad, as a community we should support people like Margaret and Roy. These people are in need of an “I care about you”.
Just imagine if that was the case of your grandma, the grandma that bakes cookies and brownies for you. If it was your grandpa, the man that enlightens your day with compliments and advice. Imagine if that person was your parents, imagine if that was you in the future. The website Aging Care, explains how we could help our friends living in isolation. The person who is helping is called a caregiver, the relationship between the caregiver and the senior is all about listening and communicating. According to T. Byram Karasu, MD "They are lonely because they are alone," "They [seniors] are put in nursing homes, assisted living communities, etc. Those are totally disorienting experiences." Seniors are lonely because there is no one to help them, the mission of the caregiver is to listen and observe. It all starts when the caregiver offers their pair of ears to listen them, but while they are opening themselves the caregiver should be able to record those forgotten activities that the person used to do, after that,the caregiver could incorporate those activities in the life of the elderly person.
This picture shows that there is a higher percentage of people dying of loneliness than excessive drinking, obesity, and air pollution.
Sally Abrahms wrote an article about 6 steps that will help to reduce isolation among elderly people. Sally Abrahms says that if we know the situation in which the person is living in, if they like animals,, and acknowledge the resources we have available. We can help that person feel better, feel confident and important. It is time to help the people in our communities. Just like children, seniors are part of our community.
Knowing all that information makes me feel powerful, I feel I can make a change in someone’s life by telling them that they are important to me. I Personally did not know that this was a serious problem in our community until one day I was going to school and a lady about 73 years-old got on the bus she was friendly and was going to her work like she had told her friends. I was amazed by what I’ve had heard that morning. Months later, I saw the same lady with a huge smile and tired eyes that could tell me that she has been through a immense adventure, a person who is full of advice to give, but she was staring at the window of the bus, she was tired and her smile disappeared. I don’t know if she is feeling isolated or if I am just making assumptions from what I saw on a ride on the bus. A senior could be feeling lonely and I would be glad to help. The elderly living in isolation is that topic that sometimes we want to avoid because we don’t know what to say or what to do about it. If we are so called the “change”and “the future”, then we should start caring more about huge issues like, seniors living in isolation.
This is the smile we want to see in someones face.