Today in the Visual Arts Center, my PAL Alice and I worked on linocut printing, a process that involves carving a relief into linoleum and using ink to transfer the design to paper. Observing each others’ designs afforded me the opportunity to learn more about Alice and what inspires her, and the activity created a relaxed environment where we were able to talk amongst ourselves as we etched. Although it is early in the program, I already feel quite comfortable with Alice. She makes it easy – as she is forthcoming about her hobbies and demonstrates an interest in mine as well. My past experiences with the senior population include caring for my late grandfather and caring for patients at VCU Health. Working with Alice, it’s refreshing and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced (or expected) to relate to Alice not as a granddaughter or caretaker, but as a friend.
My grandfather was always introverted, but his aging experience caused him to withdraw even further from the external world. Alice has shown me that aging does not necessarily equate to “loss.” She is an active member of the JCC gym, attends hip hop classes regularly, and (I was so excited to find out) has tried yoga! Not only that, but she finds intellectual stimulation through trivia and connects with her community at church and the JCC. Undoubtedly, everyone has their own unique experience of aging. What I am learning through PALETTE and my PAL is that my own experience can be one of continued growth and optimism.
Rachel Erickson, graduate student in Physical Therapy