PEORIA — The ninety-four years of living reflected in Jan Meyer’s hands made them a worthy subject for artwork created at Heartis Village last week.
Methodist College nursing student Lindsay Harrold worked with Meyers to make the artwork. Using a photograph of Meyer’s hands outlined with raised lines of glue, the pair made a rubbing on cleverly “aged” paper. They quietly chatted as they worked, enjoying the camaraderie as much as the activity itself.
“Getting to come here and connect with the residents is awesome,” said Harrold. “This is what we’re gonna be doing in a couple years.”
Harrold was one of five Methodist College nursing students participating in the activity as part of their required art class. Combining the class with a visit to the assisted living facility turns making art into a relevant activity for future nurses.
“We’re bridging the gap between art and science,” said Sara Diemer, Methodist College art teacher. “All of these guys will be working in the field in a few years. It’s important that they get to know people outside of their comfort zone. Patients come from all walks of life.”
Since opening two years ago, Heartis has been partnering with Methodist College in a variety of activities. The partnership is beneficial for both students and residents, said Heartis community life coordinator Lynette Steger, who designs activities for residents.
“I know some of the administrators at Methodist College, and we started having conversations about how we could work together even before Heartis opened their doors,” said Steger. “I thought it was a marvelous idea to have a student educational component.”
Art is not the only thing students are doing at Heartis. For the past two summers, Heartis has hosted a gerontology internship in which Methodist students learn how to become educators for seniors. Methodist students also work at Heartis as part of a public health and community nursing course, and early this year the partnership was extended to library science students from Illinois Central College. They will be teaching seniors how to use audio books and touch-screen computers.
Young people bring a renewed sense of vitality to seniors living at Heartis, and residents are more likely to participate in activities when the students are involved, Steger said.
“It does get them to try things they wouldn’t normally do,” she said. “When the students come, the residents want to come because they feel they have a responsibility to help them succeed.”
Tracey Kupper, whose 83-year-old mother participated in the artmaking program last week, praised the collaboration.
“The residents love having the company and interaction with the younger people, and for the young girls, well, every time Mom goes into the hospital, I wonder how many people working in the hospital have had some interaction with older people and people suffering from dementia,” said Kupper. “We have such a difficult time finding good people who understand this population. The more people who do this, the better the understanding. You can’t get enough of that kind of experience — books are great, but hands-on is better.”
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.