I realize that I am no doctor, researcher, therapist or anything in the medical field. Because of my luck, I have been exposed to quite a bit of resources in the medical and rehabilitation field that I have some insight that may help people with aphasia and brain injuries.
What got me thinking was the news story of a Dutch retirement home that give students free rent in exchange with socializing with residents. I think that retirement homes isolate people with ageing and chronic illnesses that instead of creating a resilient environment it is an isolated and forgotten place.
When I was working as a government employee, I was so shocked to see that there was no job transition/mentoring in place, especially with highly skilled employees that were almost ready to retire. I watched talented people retire with their wealth of knowledge not passed on. A new person gets in the position and basically starts over. There is much overlap and redundancy and re-inventing the wheel. We have lost a generation or two of information transfer due to this. It is a shame! Then we are experiencing the baby boomers retire at 65 healthy, strong and going stir crazy because they are now perceived to be “worthless or old or redundant” pieces of society. That is hurtful. I am so grateful that the 2015 movie Intern was released. It is starting to mainstream the breaking down of barriers and re-starting generational information transfer.
I then also saw first hand how isolating health obstacles can be. When I was doing my speech therapy once a week and attending a small speech group another day a week I felt I was not making progress in my recovery. I went into my son’s class and read to the class…stutters, stammers and all. The kids didn’t notice at all and thought it was apart of the story being read. I felt great after that. I asked if they needed help with reading and so I spend once a week for 30-45 minutes leading a reading group with five kindergarten students. It was here where my speech, thinking improved the most. I also felt like I was apart of a community and not isolated. Even though I attended a group with 6 other aphasia people and two workers before, it was more of a health treatment type of feeling. The feeling of going to an appointment for dentist or something like that. It was not a community feel, but a medical feel to it.
I really think that bringing TBI’ers, Elderly and students together in a learning environment would benefit everyone. Even if it is students going into the retirement homes to collect stories, help with crafts, reading, exercise, board games or just socializing can be beneficial too! I even think that having a retirement home/day care would be beneficial too. Daily interaction with kids…what couldn’t get better than that. If there was mentors brought into school and used to help kids with one on one stuff or projects.
So my hope is that all of us tossed to the side people find their community and become less isolated. Being able to think, do physical activities, work on your quirks in a “normal situation” can help recovery. It helped mine. I was practicing my tactics in a real world situation instead of an office.
This type of working agreement could be beneficial to two goverment areas medical and education. There may be some cost savings in long term health care and in education with the use of volunteers.
Who knows…but I have positive thoughts that it could work.