Working at an elderly Home: By Cadet John Fatkin
(Note: Cross Cultural Solutions is a non-government agency that performs humanitarian work in foreign countries. ARMY ROTC Cadets were placed with several of CCSs programs to help with humanitarian efforts.)
My volunteer placement is at Hogar de Ancianos of Costa Rica. This location is the elderly home for persons that cannot fully take care of themselves. I enjoy going to the elderly home every morning to bring a little joy to people who live a modest life. Most of these individuals are in wheelchairs and have no family to take care of them. All of the stories that I hear from the residents are quite extravagant and some can be rather sad. Knowing that people were once so able bodied and knowing they rely on the help of others makes me even more tenacious to lend a hand of vigilant and encouraging help.
One of the things I do to help people living in the elderly home is feeding the residents who cannot eat by themselves. I was shocked to see how many people were not able to effectively use silverware and cups. I can easily sense the frustration from the people when they see that I am so young and blessed with basic motor functions. This makes me even more motivated to avoid seeming reluctant to feed anyone who is in need of help. Doing this simple task has made me much more grateful for all of the everyday activities that I am able to accomplish by myself.
Another activity that I do with the elderly is play dominoes. Dominoes is a game that I have never been familiar with until I was able to work at the elderly home. At my placement it is very important to be willing to try new things and engage in other activities that seem fun to others. I tried to introduce some of my new friends to games that I am more familiar with; however, others can be less eager to do the things that I enjoy doing. Dominoes is doubtlessly the game about which most of the residents seem to know the most. It was difficult to get up to speed with my peers in the game, but the competitive atmosphere is something that I have been familiar with my entire life.
The elderly and I conduct workouts every day to help them use the muscles that they do not always use. Most of the workouts consist of things such as muscle rotation and stretching. All of the residents have different ability levels that I have to be cognizant of and I need to challenge each person accordingly. Making sure I give fair and equal treatment to all of the elderly is very important, because some can get frustrated if they sense that I am neglecting talking to them for any reason.
I have learned numerous things about how people function when they do not have many activities on their plate. My placement has taught me to maintain patience in stressful environments. People can thrive easier when another individual brings positive charisma into their daily lives. I look forward to maintaining a positive mindset in all other aspects of my life that have to do with leadership in stressful predicaments.