On my visit to the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst Senior Citizen Center I did not know what to expect. I was nervous at first because I never really interacted with elderly people before. When I first arrived, I walked around and introduced myself and engaged in small talk with some of the seniors. There was a walking exercise class that was about to start, so I decided to participate. Before they started the walking exercise the instructor had us do light stretching that involved us to move our head back and forth and do range of motion exercises with our legs and hands.
After we stretched, the instructor had us make a circle and walk around slowly and then hold hands and walk into the circle and then back. At first I was a little annoyed at the pace things were going, but then I started to have a good time when I noticed how much the seniors were enjoying this activity. I communicated with many of the seniors there. I did not expect our conversations to be that interesting, but I enjoyed speaking to them very much. Many of them were curious to know why I was there.
I told them I was from the Long Island University nursing program and as part of an assignment I had to pay a visit to a senior center. I actually spoke to one lady that was a nurse before she retired. She was so happy to learn that I was studying to become a nurse like her. She had many other jobs before she became a nurse and she said that nursing was the most rewarding experience in her life. I was happy to speak to someone who has been doing nursing for so long and speaks so highly of it.
I spoke to Rachel Libus the director of the senior center program and she told me about some of the activities that take place there. They have several classes the seniors may participate in such as dancing class, walking exercise, Tai Chi, English classes, and painting. They also take their seniors on trips, which I thought was really cool. I also spoke to a senior that gives the dance lessons 4 times a week; he’s been with this organization for 13 years.
The area the senior center is in is mostly Jewish, however they accept any race, but the majority of the seniors there are Asian (Chinese) and Russian coming after Asian. Approximately, 100-150 seniors visit the senior center. When I first arrived I did not think that many seniors participated at this center, but a lot more seniors showed up. The senior center does offer other services to the community. They offer multi-service center/healthy families, family violence prevention program, good neighbors program, and Bensonhurst housing for elderly.
Honestly, after my experience with the elderly my thoughts about them changed. I previously thought I wouldn’t want to be a nurse involving a geriatric field, but after I had the chance to speak to them and engage in activities with them I wouldn’t mind working in that field. I found them to very wise and interesting. I enjoyed their company and would love to go back and pay a visit to the center on my own time. This experience also taught me I shouldn’t make a decision about not wanting to work with a particular group until I have experienced it.