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Gerontology students honored by elders



Gerontology major Brittany Walton (left) helped Elaine Watters fulfill a dream project.

Every spring since 2000, Sacramento State lecturer Nancy Schier-Anzelmo has paired students in her Gerontology 103 practicum class – formally called Applied Care Management in Gerontological Practice – with elderly residents of local assisted-living facilities.

On May 1, 65 residents of the Chateau at River’s Edge and its sister facility, Chateau on Capitol Avenue, hosted a thank-you dinner at River’s Edge for their 80 student mentors from the current Gerontology 103 class.

“The course provides volunteer residents with one-on-one support to enhance personal development and foster an appreciation of lifelong learning,” says Schier-Anzelmo, an Alzheimer’s/dementia specialist. “It’s an intergenerational exchange and has been a beautiful thing to watch.”

At the beginning of the semester, the students and their assigned seniors agree to work together on a particular goal or project. The students offer their guidance and support over 20 hours of interaction with the elders.

Among the elders’ goals are learning to use the Internet or a smartphone, organizing their grandchildren’s photos in albums, taking a yoga class or starting a walking regimen. Meanwhile, the elders provide the students with real-world experience that will prepare them to work in the fast-growing field of gerontology.

“The marvelous generational interaction is truly the key component of this program’s success,” said River’s Edge executive director Mary Erickson. “While our residents flourish and benefit with lasting relationships, it’s a genuinely shared reward between senior and student.”

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Office of Public Affairs at (916) 278-6156. – Dixie Reid