Elderly Assistance Worthy, Wealthy Human Experience

Casey Miller, Sports Editor

I have been volunteering in an assisted living home since last summer, and every hour spent has been worth it and has taught me a valuable lesson.

I volunteer with my mother at Aegis Assisted Living to help other volunteers and employees in their work with providing activities for the senior residents. Aegis is a community of volunteers and employees who strive to make the assisted living experience more enjoyable for the seniors by organizing daily activities and events.

My mother and I started volunteering at Aegis through the National Charity League.

I have friends whose grandparents live at Aegis, and they have told me that their relatives love it there.

I enjoy working with the elderly, so I knew that this would be a fun opportunity.

Volunteers at Aegis interact with the residents, whether it is through helping them with bingo cards or giving hints on a crossword puzzle.

During daily exercise instruction, a group of seniors exert grip control using tennis balls. My mother and I often walk in to observe this last part. As soon as 80 year-old resident Harriet sees our faces, she gives a toothy smile. “Alright, your turn, Harriet,” the instructor usually says as he places the ball bucket in front of her.

To practice coordination, the seniors have to throw the ball back into the bucket from a few feet away. Of course, Harriet gets it in on the first try, easy. The other seniors clap for her, smiles spread across their faces.

Exercises aren’t something that the seniors feel like they are obligated to do. It’s something that each person wants to do because they are with their friends, enjoying challenging activities. Even with Marge, whose average attempts before getting the ball in the bucket is 15, she still has a blast trying, with all the other seniors cheering her on: “Go Marge! You’ve got it this time!”

On Marge’s 10th or 11th time, she smiles at my mom and me, so I give her a thumbs-up for good luck. She tries again, because she knows that all of the other residents, the activity director Kay and the volunteers are still rooting for her.

Aegis isn’t just an assisted living home, it’s a little community comprised of residents, workers, nurses, family members and volunteers.

I love going with my mom, seeing seniors like Marge and Harriet and a man who knows every answer to every crossword puzzle within seconds. Seeing them smile when I dive on the floor to save the balloon in volleyball or when they win at bingo is gratifying.

Every time I work at Aegis, I have a great time. I have so much respect for these men and women, these people who are much more worldly and wise than me. If I could consolidate all these seniors’ experiences, I would be so rich, intellectually and emotionally. Being around these sagacious elders is a human experience that too few are able to have, and one for which I am grateful.