Behavioral Science majors have an opportunity to participate in a unique hands-on experience that enhances their understanding of long-term care for older adults. Professors Mary Ligon, Ph.D., and Carla Strassle, Ph.D., are working with a local long-term care facility on a program that benefits residents and students. “Three years ago,” Ligon says, “SpiriTrust Lutheran came to me and proposed the idea of making two rooms and meals available to two York College students free of charge as a new way of promoting intergenerational connectedness.” In this groundbreaking program that links generations, students reside at the facility for one semester, share five meals a week with residents, and contribute 15-20 hours of service per month.
Students gain valuable firsthand knowledge that will stand them in good stead when they begin their careers. Residents enjoy interacting and forming relationships with members of the younger generation. Ligon says, “This is an opportunity for a great learning experience for students. It was estimated that they would learn more about long-term care, older adults and aging, intergenerational relationships, and person-centered care.” To improve understanding of long-term care, faculty members found this to be the perfect research opportunity to gather data on residents, members of their family, staff, and the students.
Ligon discovered her passion for working in gerontology from spending 15 years with elders as a Recreation Therapist in healthcare. She believes, “Old age is a time of learning and growth, a time when people develop new insights and ways of viewing not only themselves, but the world around them.”