Thank you, professor Lewis and Bussell, for creating the Life Course Scholar program. Seeing the HAP posters in its physical form was I do not know, I cannot explain the feeling, I believe it was showing that Life Course Scholar is ending. I honestly feel so fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the 2018-2019 cohort. Life Course Scholars has taught me so much about a population that is neglected in our society, yet in my family I could never forget about my grandma, who is this population. This course is different from other classes at UCSD, because we are taught through hands-on projects and off-campus programs, which I believe makes the material more meaningful and memorable. Through the course, I was able to gain knowledge about what it means to be healthy aging and learn about the factors that contributes to how we age, in addition, what I can do to bring awareness and change the perspectives about ageism. Many believe that “Children are the future”, which is true, however elders are the future, too, because they have been in the past and present, so they can provide valuable insight about the future, based on their experiences in life. Life is about growing, and aging is growing, so that is life.
This weekend my Living. Creating. Striving. HAP group had our wiliness event at the Gary and Mary West Wellness Center in Downtown San Diego. The turnout for the event was phenomenal, we had at little more than a hundred seniors who came to the event. Although, we may have run out of the one hundred goody bags we had, seniors were still coming and staying to participate in the wellness stations that we had. At the event we had a coloring, self-massage, face mask, and nail stations for the seniors to destress and pamper their selves. In addition, there was a jewelry and clothing boutique for the seniors to take some items that they need or want. I honestly love the activities that we choose to implement in our wellness event because each station gave us the opportunity to engage and conversate with the seniors. In each conversation, the seniors genuinely enjoyed the event because this was something that they were not able to do regularly. Bertha, who was an attendee expressed how this was a fun experience because she does not get the chance to go to the salon due to the cost and distance. I was full of joy from the reaction and feedback that we would receive from the seniors. Many would ask when we were going to come back and do this again, and it was heartbreaking to answer that we were not going to do this again. However, to our surprise, the professors want to continue to do this event again. In my opinion, this was the best outcome from the event, knowing that we created an event that the professor want to have again for the seniors because they thought it created an impact for the seniors, which makes me feel that we chose the right approach for the event, after we were not able to do our initial project. It happened; the event finally happened. I want to express many thanks to everyone who contributed to make this event happen: our donators, UCSD’s intergenerational club, Casa de Manana, the Gary and Mary West center, the USP program, the professors, instructional assistants, and peers, and all the seniors who came. Without the support, the event would have not been living, creating, or striving.
I always enjoy the projects that are assigned in Life Course Scholar because we are allowed to be creative with them, which is not common in college courses. “Debunking Ageist Myths” is a communication assignment to convey information that debunks ageism. For this project, I was thinking what are products that are aimed toward elders. I had several ideas that I wanted to do, such as creating labels for products that are targeted to fix problems in aging. But I remember my grandma and her friends use to play an Asian version of bingo every day. I thought this would be a fun and easy way to debunk the stereotypes about elders. On the bingo cards, I put misconceptions and myths, such as “elder shy away from new forms of technology” or “elders are not interested in intimacy or sex”. And to debunk these stereotypes, there are cards the facilitator reads to the bingo player that states facts against the myths and misconceptions, so the bingo players have to decide which stereotypes the facts debunks on the bingo card. For example, if the card said, “With personal skills and professional expertise, elders volunteer and contribute countless of hours to various community organizations within society” this would debunk the stereotype that “elders lack productivity or contribute less to society”. Similar to bingo, to win you have to fill the bingo card, but the real win is that you get to fill your mind with knowledge about the stigma that surrounds ageism.
About two more weeks until the Healthy Aging Project: Project L.C.S. happens at the Gary and Mary Senior West Center. To be honest, the project is not going how we originally envision it, but we are trying our best to successfully plan it, in a way that meets our objective: a space to destress, relax, and feel confident. Unfortunately, we did not have much luck with companies or businesses to donate their time or products to our event, but we have thought of alternative ideas with the same concept. If we are unable to contract hairstylist or massages, we plan to have a D.I.Y. event, that includes face-masks, make-up, and nail polish bar. I think this is a great alternative because we can provide and teach them easy D.I.Y. self-care products that they can do at home. In addition, our goody bags are something that we still want to have for the elders. We are going to incorporate a reusable goody bag, that they can use again and again. The goody bags are going to contain shampoo and conditioner, disposable razors, lotion, and soap bar. We were able to get toothbrush donations from a dentist friend and sock donations from Bombas! If you want to buy some socks, check Bombas out because for every sock purchased is a sock (and shirts, too) donated to a homeless shelter. Furthermore, the Casa de Manana senior home donated their clothes and accessories to the event, too, and classmates and professors who donated. Thank you. I am honestly still looking forward to the event, even though it is not how we first approached it, but I think our new approach is still important and more on a personal level where we teach and interact with the elders on the D.I.Y. products.
Each week I have been able to talk to different people and hear their different stories about their lives at twenty. At the Gary and Mary West Senior Center, I was able to have conversations with two people. The first person did not know about the LEG and was ushered in by her friend to participate in the LEG. She came to the senior center to drop off a letter, but she was glad that she chose today to drop off her letter. She explained how she has not had much interaction with younger people since her children grew up and started living their own lives. She was not much of a story teller, but she enjoys the Q and A question types. So, I asked her different questions about herself, family, and experiences. I got to learn more about her likes and dislikes. Her favorite memories revolved around her family. She may not be around her family, but she has found a family at the center. She described all her friendships at the center and her involvement in the choir. She expressed how she likes how the center have these collaborations with us and will be looking forward to futures events with us. The second person I talked to came late to the LEG, when there was about thirty minutes left, but we made the best of the time we had left. She explained how this was an event that she was really looking forward to, and that she even was missing the first lunch to be here. I can tell that she really wanted to be there and just wanted to talk, so we let her talk the whole time. She told us about her journey as an aspiring writer and her traveling stories. I was able to have two different conversation experiences, which shows that some people need these intergenerational conversations with people, and I truly happy that I am able to be in class that allows me to have these conversations and connections with people.
Death. A conversation topic that many people try to avoid discussing, myself included. The reading and presentation on Happiness is a Choice You Make, introduces the thoughts or ideas about the deaths of a loved one. The discussion in class made me think about if I should have this conversation with my parent soon, because you never know when or what could happen to anyone. This is a talk that you do not want to have with your parents, but it is not inevitable. I have been fortunate to not have a death in family, where I could remember the details. My grandfather died when I was young, so I do not remember much, beside what the pictures can show. Now, at this age where I can understand and remember, I cannot bear the thought for the time my grandma. It makes emotional as I type this. This is a conversation that my family needs to have now. Okay, changing topics to something that is about living, creating, and striving in life. The HAPs, Project LCS, is coming together. We have reached out to companies and people that could provide products and services that can make this happen. Fingers crossed that we receive support for this project. We have confirmed the date and location. If we do not receive support, we have an alternative plan that will still focus on the relaxation and confidence of age among elders. We really just want this project to show elders that they are beautiful just the way they are. Aging is beauty. Like they say about wine, age improves with wine.
I was disappointed that we were not able to participate in the Zumba class at the Bayside Community Center. However, I was not disappointed with the interactions we had with the community members at the Bayside Center. My favorite thing about being a Life Course Scholar are all the different opportunities that we have, to communicate and engage with the community. I love talking and listening to people and their perspective on life, and how they got to where they are now. Everybody has a different journey in life, so it makes me wonder about my journey in life. Where will I be in twenty years from now. Now, my life at (almost) twenty years is about adulting, discovering, and learning about myself and the world around me. My name is Alisa Hul, pronounced Aleesha, not Alissa, funny story is my mom genuinely believes that is how you spell Alisa, so that is how I pronounce my name. I am enjoying my last years as a teen before turning twenty years old next month. I was born and raised in a city within Orange County; my family has never moved, aside from across the street in the same neighborhood. I went to the same schools as my neighbors and friends, but when it was time for college, we all went to different schools, I am the only one who attends the University of California, San Diego. This is a little background on who I am, where I am from, and how I am in San Diego. At the Bayside Community Center, fellow course scholars and I were able to talk and listen to a community member who was at the Zumba class. We talked about her life at twenty and our own lives at twenty. She had this bracelet with all her sisters and cousins name on it. Now, I want to do something like that for my family. This conversation made me want to ask my family and others about their life at twenty.
I have decided what Healthy Aging Project (HAP) that I want to participate in, Project L.C.S. (Living, Creating, and Striving), which was created to encourage a change in the way we view beauty standards for elders. This HAP project will be an event that will provide a space for elders to destress, relax, and feel confident about themselves. We envision a three-hour event where free haircuts and barbers, makeup makeovers, and massage services will be provided in a lower-income elder community. At the end of the event, there will be a fashion show and photoshoot where elders will be able to showcase their inner and outer beauty. In addition, they will be able to take home clothes and accessories, and a goody bag that contains hygiene and snack products. I am looking forward to the event, I hope we will be able to have the event. Hopefully, we will be able to have people who are willing to donate their services and supplies to help us make this event possible. This project is a rough outline for the event because we know and understand that there may limitations, but we are ready to make adjustments to ensure we output the best event we could for the elders. We just want this to be an event for the seniors, to look and feel their best. It is a way to change the stigma that surrounds beauty standards for elders. We need to learn and understand that aging is normal and is part of life.
Gary and Mary West Senior Center Prom was hands down my favorite event this quarter! The decorations, food, and games really brought the carnival theme together. I really enjoyed planning the event and I loved being at the event. It honestly made me so happy to see and interact with the seniors. So happy that I cried. When we announced the prom king and queen, I had honor to crown them. As I was crowning the queen, the king said, “Isn’t she’s the cutest? She’s my cutie pie.” and the queen was so appreciative and thankful towards me. After I had placed the crown on her, she gave me a kiss on my cheek, in a way how my own grandmother would give me a kiss. This where all the emotions came together and made me cry. Everything about this moment crowning moment was just so pure and wholesome. Everything about the prom was amazing and I hope the seniors had an amazing time, too. I loved talking with the seniors because they have so many stories that they are willing to share. It makes me want to write a memoir for every senior, so their stories will always be remembered. Many seniors partook in the photo-booth and carnival games, I loved the fact that they were able to take a polaroid picture or carnival prize home with them, as a memory. This prom will always be in my memories. This made me wonder if there are events like these in my hometown for seniors because I want my grandma and her friends to have days like these. This has inspired me to participate or plan an event for seniors, if one has not already been implemented. The Life Scholars Course itself has inspired me to get more involved with the seniors in my hometown and encouraged me to find ways I could improve my city for the seniors.
Alzheimer is a disease that affects more than just the individual who is diagnosis with it, it affects the lives of those who surrounds the individual as well. In current events, JAMA Neurology published a study on how scientist may have found clues on why African Americans are more vulnerable to Alzheimer than Whites. They found a substance associated with cerebrospinal fluid in African Americans that did not protect them from the onset of Alzheimer disease. However, there are limitations indicated in the study that do not account for the other known factors for Alzheimer, such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, which are all associated with stress and poverty. Because stress and poverty are factors that are associated with Alzheimer, which may explain why it is more apparent in African Americans. According to statistics, there are high percentages of African Americans live in poverty, which leads to stress and the after falls. Living in poverty makes it difficult to live a long and healthy life. At Casa de Manana, it is apparent that there is a relationship between wealth and health. When the Life Scholar Course host a prom at Casa de Manana, many seniors came to dance the night away (or watch us dance ha-ha). The seniors who did dance had no problem moving or dancing. After a night of talking and dancing with the seniors, I learned and heard many things about living life as an elderly. I believe moving and interacting are small influences that can have a great impact on decreasing the chances of diseases.