Academic journal article Human Ecology

Cornell Students Reach out to Local Seniors

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Cornell Students Reach out to Local Seniors

Article excerpt

On many occasions, pre-med student Lida Zheng '11 has explored aging issues in her classes in the College of Human Ecology--such subjects as the nutritional needs of seniors, quality of life in nursing homes, or the maladies that come with old age. But, she said, the lessons usually don't sink in until she connects them to the many residents she visits each week at Ithaca nursing homes.

As co-president of the Cornell Elderly Partnership (CEP), Zheng leads several dozen student volunteers into one of three area long-term care facilities every Friday during the academic year. The students chat with or read to individual residents and also lead such group activities as arts and crafts, Scrabble, and Nintendo Wii bowling.

In the process, friendships develop between young and old, and CEP students say that they come to understand the wants and needs of an oft-neglected age group.

"I often hear something in class and relate it to my friends in the nursing homes and wonder what they would think and feel about it," said Zheng, a Human Biology, Health, and Society (HBHS) major and gerontology minor. "It's very therapeutic to visit with them, and it also puts a face to the conditions we're learning about. If you see someone struggling with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, it's much more impactful than reading about it in a textbook."

Likewise, Andrew Staron '11, an HBHS major and gerontology minor, finds the visits to be personally rewarding, and also a rich learning experience.

In his class, Nutrition and the Life Cycle, he learned about how a person's recommended dietary guidelines change late in life. However, he said, it can be difficult for seniors to attain their nutritional needs when illness or other factors diminish their appetites or make them lethargic.

"When you are around older adults, you see how the knowledge applies, but also the challenges to quality care," said Staron, who plans a career in medicine after graduation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.