After my experience in PALETTE in Motion today (and the entire program) I have a better appreciation for working with older adults. I realized that just because older adults do not always move around and participate in as many activities as they did when they were younger, it does not mean that they do not wish they could. It is important to let them do what they feel comfortable doing, but also invite them to participate in any activity because they might just need an extra push to engage them. My PAL also commented once that she loves seeing young people do great things and interacting with us made her day better, so it shows how important it is to keep relationships with older adults. I also have noticed that a lot of the PALs are very excited and happy to be a part of this program and that makes me excited that I could be just as energetic as them when I am an older adult. Today showed me that these older adults really want to be included and we should never exclude them because of any preconceived notions that they are unable to participate because of their age.
Jennifer Dilger, graduate student in Physical Therapy
Today was yet another special day spent with special people sharing the freedom and spirit felt from dancing. Nothing feels better than to release all worries and give oneself to the music, letting your body move through space without a care. We all truly feel that the studio is a safe space with no judgment, for we support and encourage each other when we perform and have fun being silly with one another. When it comes to dancing, age has no boundaries. Bodies were meant to move and be used as long as life allows, and it is inspiring to see how just how much energy 90 year olds still have! It is because of this that I cannot tell how old someone is! Maybe I am ignorant, but I always imagined that after the age of 80 people would be frail and dependent. My beliefs have totally reversed. I was blown away after talking with Bertha today to learn that she is 90 years old. She is so light on her feet and dainty when she dances! I hope to be just as full of life as her, at the age of 24.
I realized today how much this program means to the older adults, especially my PAL, Alice. She admires us students for enduring professional school, and is so appreciative of us taking time out of our busy schedules to dance and spend time with her. It is not just another time commitment on a Sunday for me, it is a joy I look forward to each week. I actually appreciate her spending time with me! Alice has taught me to live in the moment and enjoy the company you are with, not to hold back any feelings but express them, let each person know how much you care about them, and be yourself. She is easily overcome by emotions because she lets herself feel them fully and is so thankful for the life that she is living and the people she is spending it with. She is a wonderful human being and a friend I will have for life. I have learned that aging is nothing to fear, life may actually get sweeter because you can appreciate all of the little moments. I am thankful for Alice for teaching me this.
Carlin Tettelbach, graduate student in Physical Therapy
Today in class, we worked on an activity where we moved with a beat, then held a pose while working around other participants in space. Something that our instructor Melanie said in PALETTE in Motion today really stuck with me—she said that she could really see all of our individual personalities coming out in our dance, movement, and poses. As I watched other people participate in the activity, I could really see what she meant. Just as we all have a unique way of speaking and thinking, we all have a unique way of moving and expressing ourselves through that movement. I really loved this because I think one of the problems we encounter when looking at people of different ages, is grouping them all together. People tend to put others into a group and label them as elderly, or teens, or middle aged for example, and make assumptions based on that label. I would not want others to make assumptions about me based on my age (or the age I look like), and I think this program is helping me to stop myself from doing this to others. Instead I want to focus on the individual, learn what makes them unique, and watch their personality shine through as they dance!
Hayley Parson, graduate student in Physical Therapy
Today is the last section of the movement class for PALETTE program and I was really happy to have an opportunity to be a part of this amazing program. Today’s learning objective was move with tempo and working forming shape around negative space of body. People were forming shape around each other, which makes me felt we are really close to each other, and making body contact. I really enjoyed this afternoon. I felt tired but also satisfy after the section. I am really glad to see all the seniors try their best to participate the movement class and felt warm from them for all the supports. I remembered the first section people still felt awkward dancing in front of people; some seniors did not really participate. But today, everybody moved and laughed during the entire section. The program brings people closer together.
Pei-Chun Chu, graduate student in Pharmacy
After today’s movement art class (as well as previous classes) I have gained a better understanding of intergenerational programming. It is a coming together, both those of younger and older ages, in order to move towards a common goal as a team. In this case, it is practicing and having a better understanding of the day’s dance concepts. It is not as difficult as it sounds. Working as part of a team, we have learned to communicate our opinions on picking the next choreographed move as well as taking into account each other’s limitations. This is one of the most important things I have learned as being part of this program – communication.
We, as individuals, must learn to communicate clearly, reflect back to show an understanding, and practice other forms of communication – those that only come with experience, in order to not just communicate with older adults, but others as well. Clear communication allows a better understanding of each other. For example, giving an opportunity for our PAL to pick the next dance move has shown me that I was wrong in my thinking – older adults are “not with the times”. This is a stereotype that I no longer hold and one that others should not. An older adult may just not have been given the opportunity to show what they know. Overall, I have taken away from PALETTE in Motion, that we must all work on being patient in communicating with others.
Waimin Khuu, graduate student in Pharmacy