Bridging the gap by walking in seniors shoes

COAST CITIES — Sixth-grade students from Temple Solel put themselves in 80-year-old shoes in order to help develop a personal understanding of what their grandparents and great-grandparents might be feeling on any given day.
They placed popcorn kernels in their shoes to represent bunions; put cotton balls into their ears to represent loss of hearing; inserted candy into their cheeks to represent the difficulty of speaking with loose dentures; wore gloves to simulate loss of dexterity while looking through glasses coated with Vaseline to simulate vision loss. Then the kids attempted to do daily activities such as playing cards, reading magazines, opening jars and candy wrappers while residents of Belmont Village Senior Living of Cardiff looked on.
“We wanted to give them some perspective before they met with our seniors to ask about their lives a new insight into the mobility and communication challenges that older adults sometimes face,“ said Inan Linton, Belmont Village executive director. “We use this training for our staff as well — we have so much to learn from our elders, if we just take the time. Understanding their perspective helps us to do that.”
According to one youngster, “Now I know what it feels like to have things hurt, and I know not to rush an older person, because it can be harder for them to do things.”
Belmont resident Dolores Wengert gave everyone a great reminder about hearing loss. “It is important to make eye contact before speaking to an older person and to begin by stating the person’s name to catch their attention,” Wengert said.
Afterwards, everyone had a chance to express what they learned while using walker and moving in a wheelchair. Everyone met in Belmont’s Bistro for refreshments and a social where students and seniors chatted one-on-one.

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