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BHS students help out in Nursing Home Week fun

As part of National Nursing Home Week, all nursing homes inBrookhaven are celebrating.

On Wednesday, Golden Living Center-Brook Manor held a horse showand petting zoo for its residents, and students from the AgingServices program at Brookhaven Technical Center were there tohelp.

The class is the only one of its kind in the state and focuseson gerontology, or the study of aging. Instructor Kathy Walker saidthis week is important to put emphasis on the elderly, and itallows the nursing homes to do special events.

“The week is to make the general public aware that these peopleare very very important,” she said.

Walker said all four of the nursing homes are doing specialactivities throughout the week.

“For Brookhaven to have four nursing homes actively participateensures this is a great place to retire,” she said.

As more people enter nursing homes, there will be greater demandfor people in the Aging Services field.

Some projections indicated the baby boomer generation could liveas old as 100 and are beginning to reach retirement age. There arebeginning to be more adult day care centers for people who don’twant to leave family at home alone all day. This allows a widevariety of opportunities for employment.

The curriculum is two years, and it is designed for people who’dlike to enter into health-related professions.

Every week, the class spends three days in nursing homes. Due toregulations in the health field, most hands-on participation isthrough various activities, such as arts and crafts and games.However, students do get the opportunity to observe other aspects,such as therapy.

Walker said the students also help out with different events atthe nursing home, including birthday parties and fashion shows.

“When they have events we’re the extra hands and feet,” shesaid. “They help in any way they possibly can.”

Walker also said the residents enjoy the students visiting.

“They’ll find one of the kids they become attached to. Sometimesthey just look forward to seeing the kids every week,” she said.”Not everyone has family to come see them all the time.”

Frankie Walker, a resident at Golden Living Center-Brook Manor,said the students are enjoyable.

“They’re friends,” she said. “They’re just a whole group of goodpeople.”

Sean Smith, a student in the Aging Services class, said theprogram offers good experience for the medical field, and it isalso nice to visit the residents.

“Coming here puts a smile on your face knowing you helped themout and brightened their day,” he said.

Jenny Scott, activities coordinator at Golden LivingCenter-Brook Manor, said the students are a tremendous help. Theresidents really look forward to the students visiting.

“They socialize and have relationships with the residents,” shesaid. “They come back and see them after they’re done with theprogram.”

Kathy Walker said the program has a lot of positive aspects. Thestudents are learning responsibility, empathy and compassion.

“If you’re having a bad day, you have to put it aside becauseonce you come in here, everything’s positive,” she said.

She also said it is good for students because they often haveother people do things for them. But at the nursing home, they arehelping others without expecting anything in return.

“I think we probably get as much from the residents as they getfrom us because you have to totally give yourself to them,” shesaid.