Sarah Flowers

Miami University
The 741 Center

Summer 2014

“This experience has given me a stronger voice in order to speak out for older adults, as many of the older adults I met felt as if they had no voice.”

There are 11,400 senior centers helping 1 million seniors a day (National Council on Aging, 2013), many of which with a primary goal to help elders age successfully. The Ohio Department on Aging Internship has given me the opportunity to understand the importance and the impact that senior centers can have on the elderly population. Warren County Community Services has many programs and services for the elderly population, one of which is the 741 Senior Center that has different programs and services to promote cognitive, physical and mental health. Through interning at The 741 Senior Center I was able to be a part of many activities and events, and this experience not only allowed me to be aware of the activities seniors are involved in but enabled me to connect and reach out to the older population.

Some of the activities at the 741 Senior Center include Zumba, computer classes, bingo, Silver Sneakers and more. My internship enabled me to be involved in and help with many of these activities, as I was given many projects that reached out to the older population. My supervisors at the senior center believed that my involvement in these activities promoted the importance of intergenerational relationships and identifying some of the challenges seniors face. My first project consisted of asking the older adults at the senior center to finish a sentence: “I believe older adults”. All the elders enjoyed this project because it gave them an opportunity to speak their mind in regard to the challenges and triumphs they face. My second project consisted of interviewing an elder about their life. This interview gave me the opportunity to hear an elderly women’s story about different adventures and challenges she faced. The interviewee gave me the opportunity to interview her at Otterbein Senior Lifestyles, and in class I learned about different senior communities but never had the opportunity to visit one. This internship gave me the opportunity to be connected to a senior who allowed me to see a senior center for the first time. I worked on other projects that consisted of decorating and setting up collages around the senior center, and the seniors loved seeing their faces on the walls reminding them of different activities that had passed.

Interning at The 741 Senior Center gave me experience working with the elderly population. Many of the elders enjoyed talking with me to the point where my supervisor had to explain to the seniors that I had to have my own space to finish my projects. The Ohio Department of Aging Internship has given me the tools and skills to succeed in my future career in gerontology. I feel I have grown professionally and can achieve any task at hand. This experience has given me a stronger voice in order to speak out for older adults, as many of the older adults I met felt as if they had no voice. The older adults want me to speak out and help them find ways to overcome daily challenges related to aging. I will never forget this experience and all of the new knowledge that I have gained. Being an intern at The 741 Senior Center has revealed the importance of intergenerational relationships, opened my eyes to the struggles seniors face and I hope in my career I can make a change.