“The Yates County Office for the Aging’s “Lunch to Learn” program is designed for elderly residents but a much younger group has learned a lot from it as well the past few months.
Students in Professor of Occupational Therapy Jean Wannall’s Occupational Development in Older and Later Adult (OCC 353) class gained valuable hands-on experience by attending the weekly programs in Branchport.
“They learned a lot about what it is like to get older,” said Wannall.
Much of the learning came through observation and that was valuable because the course places “particular emphasis on the occupational performance and occupational form of selected activities as they relate to overall health, wellness, and normal development.”
Students were able to assess skill and function levels by observing people who, for example, had mobility issues or trouble opening milk cartons.
“They picked up things we talked about in class,” explained Wannall.
Students were also forced to meet and interact with people who were strangers, and that is “good preparation for their clinical practice,” according to Wannall.
By the time the students invited “Lunch to Learn” program participants to campus for a holiday celebration in December, the strangers had become friends. After lunch, the students and their guests sang Christmas carols.
“The seniors really enjoyed getting to know the students and learning about Keuka College,” said Wannall.
Each student was required to maintain a “reflective” journal, according to Wannall. They also wrote articles on such subjects as nutrition, fall prevention, the importance of exercise, and traveling as an older person that will be published in the Office for the Aging newsletter.
The “Lunch to Learn” program will move from Branchport to the Bluff Point United Methodist Church next year and students in one of Professor of Occupational Therapy Carmela Battaglia’s courses will take part during the spring semester.