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Senior Services promotes “Intergenerational Wisdom”

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) –

Perhaps you’ve seen it on social media — a man, woman, or couple in their Golden Years sharing what they have learned during the many decades of their journey through life.

“Pick the hill you want to die on — some things aren’t worth fighting over.”

“Start your 401(k) or Roth early — compound interest is amazing!”

“Moderation in all things but love.”

There are just a few of the pearls of wisdom our seniors have shared with Susan Bodnar, the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital Senior Services director, and the rest of her staff.

“Many of our seniors feel they have been forgotten. And during COVID, it got worse,” said Bodnar.

“I was looking through Instagram and saw pictures of kids with their grandparents. I started thinking about the benefits of building relationships between young and older people. We can learn so much from people who have been here longer than us.”

So the “Intergenerational Wisdom” feature began. Bodnar and her team choose a client, volunteer, or other candidate and ask them to share with our community what they wish someone had told them.

“Our older population has a wealth of information! Every person we have asked to help us with this project has been more than willing. These posts have been well received by our community and the staff who get to work with these folks. It has been such a positive experience, and we look forward to new words of wisdom each month!” said Bodnar.

“A lot of our staff are very young. One of the young ladies, about 20, said she thought she wanted to work with children. Having had the opportunity to work with seniors, she sees how much they add to her life. But we also have the potential to add to theirs.”

Last February, RRH began showcasing seniors and their stories on social media.

“Working with seniors, I still see that none of them have lost their interest in building and sustaining relationships,” said Jennifer Jimenez, supervisor of personal care services for the RRH visiting nurses program.

“I always like to ask why people came here, chose to raise their families here, and they love the opportunity to share their lives and what they have learned.”

Both Bodnar and Jimenez acknowledged that senior citizens are often unseen, even neglected, by their communities.

“I don’t know that it’s intentional, but we get wrapped up in our own lives, and we don’t always take the time to look at the people around us, what they have to offer or what they might need,” said Bodnar.

“I know that when I was young, I just thought I would live forever. Having our older generations in our lives reminds us that life is a gift that should not be taken for granted.

“People who have congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder may not have known the impacts the choices they made in their youth were going to have in their later years. When I talk to them, I think about things like energy drinks, fast food, or other parts of our lifestyle that may impact us in ways we don’t think about. Someone with more experience will help you think about that perspective.”

“I think I’m fortunate to work with the people I do,” said Jimenez. “I have learned so much – about them and myself.

“I also think it’s important to remember how important it is for people to be a part of a community. We live in an isolated town with limited resources. Sometimes I might run a 5- or 10-minute errand for someone that costs me very little but might mean the world to them.”

“I know there are a lot of people in our community who do this,” said Bodnar. “They help their neighbors with meals or put trashcans at the curb.

“They need people to listen to their stories. And when we take the time to do it, we may realize that this is not just a crabby person. It’s a person who is brokenhearted and has no one to talk to.”

“There are a lot of needs, and none of us can do everything ourselves,” said Jimenez. “But open the door that needs to be opened. Look around and make sure you see our seniors and find a way to connect with them. You might get more out of the exchange than you can give them.”