Last Friday, we made our first outing into the broader San Diego community, visiting three of St. Paul’s senior service centers—known for their community and intergenerational programs available to those on Medicare or Medical.
The first center we visited was St. Paul’s PACE (St. Paul’s Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) Reasnor. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the elders, we’ll call him Dave, and although at first seeming hesitant to chat, we ended up having a great conversation. I was quite amazed by his memory as he recalled events from his childhood back in Chicago, his time in the marine core and relationship with extended family. We bonded over our love for running, cooking, travel and animals—he a cat person and me a dog person, but we agreed to disagree. As he recounted his life-story and asked me about mine, it really made me realize that I have been a student for essentially all of my life thus far. Dave left school at the age of 13 to work and eventually join the marine core during the Korean War. While this seems crazy to someone who has known nothing but school for all their life, it really helped me put things in perspective. I had been stressed that week with exams and papers. Speaking with Dave made me realize how insignificant those worries were in the larger scope of things. Through listening to Dave’s narrative, I was struck by how much is learned through interactions we have on a daily basis that don’t necessarily have to come from academics but that come naturally through day to day conversations and encounters with other people.
After some directionally challenged moments and a brisk walk (Prof. Lewis and Bussell could be Olympic power walkers!), we made it up the road to St. Paul’s Community Care Center. This is intergenerational center that couples childcare with the elderly center. The children and elders have a morning flag salute together, craft together, eat lunch together and cook together—a concept I think all of us LCSers found incredibly heartwarming. The elders at this center have mild to moderate dimension which made holding conversations with them a little more difficult. In a way, however, it was great because it forced me to constantly enjoy the present moment with them. Here I had the opportunity to speak with an elder, we’ll call her Susan, who said her favorite hobby was talking and engaging with other people. Coming to the center allowed her to do just that. She was quite the chatty Cathy. She repeatedly expressed her appreciation for our presence and commented on the lovely group of people she was surrounded by—particularly Saul who she had quite the eye for! It made me realize how much of an impact just another’s presence and conversation makes in someone’s day.
The last of St. Paul’s centers that we visited was considered the Taj Mahal of St. Paul’s centers located in Chula Vista. The atmosphere was lively and I was quite impressed by the range of events they had planned elders. I was also impressed by the individualization of each of the patients’ treatment plans—incorporating meetings with doctors, PT, OT, social workers and families to make proper decisions.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so many different places and seen so many different people before 1pm in my life! It was great to not only see and tour the different centers but also to have the opportunity to get to know some of the elders. I’m looking forward to seeing some of them again as potential elder partners.