I found Nancy* lying in bed because she wasn’t feeling well. In particular, her stomach hurt, and she was waiting for nurses to provide her with some medication to make her feel better. I sat by her as we waiting, the alarm sounding fainty besides us.
Walking into Hebrew Senior Life felt both familiar and unfamiliar. There was so much of it that I remembered: set of tables right before I turned into the long hallway, walking past the wall of figurines in their glass cases, and aquarium appearing before me as the elevator doors slid open. Yet, I will admit that it took me a second to recall what floor Nancy was on. Similarly, I hesitated upon entering the floor she was in. I will also wholeheartedly admit that I was beyond happy to see Nancy sitting on one of the armchairs right as I stepped foot off the elevator.
In short, this new legislation requires those in the health field, such as physicians and nurses, to undergo training to care for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia - a training directly tied to the renewing or gaining of licenses. Moreover, Alzheimer’s patients will have family members or legal representatives informed about the diagnoses. This plan is effective no later than October 1, 2021.
What is your biggest fear? That’s one question, of many, that I believe gets to the core of not only humanity, but also a person. My poetry professor, Jorie Graham, told us that “brushes with mortality” are the foundations of good poetry, meaningful experiences, and lives richly recounted. This is a question I posed to my friend, who came to Lima, as we traveled together and explored Peru (i.e. Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Aguas Calientes, and Lima). Immediately, upon my questioning, he echoed my thought: his greatest fear would be having Alzheimer’s disease.
“Nothing Gold Can Stay” is a poem that I carry with me close and always. It’s the poem I can easily recite to Nancy. A poem that emerges easily when I spend my time in Peru. A poem that allows me to find tranquility even amidst any challenges I face. It is the same poem I am so glad to share here and hope you enjoy.
How do you usually greet someone? Well, it depends on the situation I suppose. With an acquittance, maybe a wave or smile. With a coworker or boss, perhaps a handshake. With good friends, maybe a hug. In Peru, it’s with a side kiss on both cheeks. The first time this occurred, I was a little taken aback because I was not used to it. In fact, I had to adjust even more when all the males I met did this as well.
Today, I had the opportunity to visit two artisans in the region, who are quite famous for their sculptures. In fact, they are sisters who work on the craft together. Seeing the care and thought they put into the sculptures reminded me of Nancy* and her figurines.
I have started my internship in Peru, and it is such a thrilling experience. It’s been interesting seeing how a NGO operates abroad, understanding the language and culture of Peru, and getting used to the hot weather.
I’m done with junior year and back at home! It’s exciting to be done with my year, crazy to think that ¾ of college is over, and wonderful to be back with family. Since the semester has ended, I went to Vietnam (for a Harvard program teaching high-schoolers and I taught one on “The Rise of Heart Disease”) and Japan (for fun for only a day). It’s been quite a whirlwind! I have sent pictures to my friends and family of my travels, including to Nancy’s* family. I know that she will love the wonderful pictures I sent - some seen below!
Using the experience from last year, HCAB ran summer visits earlier this year to ensure the success of summer visits. I’m sad that I can't visit my buddy this semester and spend time with her - however, I was delighted to receive this email, below, today!
At the end of every semester, we have reflection session consisting of approximately 10 volunteers and facilitated by co-director. How it works is that we have a set of questions to go through and we talk about it. It's a great experience to talk about the highs and lows of the program and our experiences in it. In fact, it's similar to van reflections - we go around and talk about our weekly visits on our way back to Harvard in the vans - however, they are more in depth and longitudinal.
Today was the much awaited HCAB brunch! All of our volunteers gathered together to visit our buddies and their family members. We arrived in the large room where the tables were set beautifully. There were colorful flower arrangements on the tables, plates were laid out very nicely, and the room was slowly being filled with chatter.
For the second time, Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies (HCAB) collaborated with Harvard Arts Program (HARTZ), another Phillips Brooks House Association program working with the elderly and connecting with them through arts and crafts.
This week, I went to Nancy with a surprise in my bag: a book of poetry! I’ve read poems to Nancy before, and it’s been one of the ways we have bonded. However, this week, I purposefully took the poetry collection I was reading in class.
Today, I went to see Nancy* again. One of my favorite things to do is listen as she talks about her art workshop. She’s a very creative individual - something that is clear from us talking about and reading poetry. Now, Nancy spends every week with an artist for an hour and fellow residents working on art. Specifically, Nancy enjoys doing sculptures of human faces.
Today, I met with Nancy and her family for the first time after winter break! We sat and talked about how my break was. Nancy loved it when I showed her pictures with my family, and she remarked that my brother was very cute. This visit, I spoke a lot about my family and how much I loved spending time with them.