Gifted Eldercare Comes of Age: Part 1
For the past several years, I spend much time visiting elders in residential care facilities. The residents I visit are of a range of abilities and awareness. Nevertheless, as with all our elders, they all deserve the best care that we can provide for them according to their needs. Just as enlightened societies have come to realize that universal health care is a worthy goal to work toward, it is my belief that universal, quality eldercare is just as important a goal. As a result of my research and analysis in this area, it has been my pleasure to present at conferences and to give webinars regarding the needs of the gifted in eldercare. As a complement to my presentations, I designed a model of what such an environment would be like. This post and the next few blog entries here will explore that model. It is important to note that, just like all gifted children deserve differentiated learning environments, so also do all gifted elders – regardless of income – deserve caring, responsive settings that promote their continued well-being and enrichment.
A Virtual Gifted Community
There are four crucial elements that contribute to the continuing enrichment and development in the lives of our elders. In this post, I share my vision of what the implementation of the first component, A Virtual Gifted Community, would be like.
One of the curses of the elderly is loneliness, which is even more patent in our mobile 21st century, where friends and family may live states, and countries, away from their elder’s care facility. As more members of a technologically proficient generation age and enter residential care, they will benefit from having access to video communication through software applications like Skype or FaceTime. In fact, the newer, more intuitive tablets would be relatively simple for most current seniors to master, even with no technical background.
Imagine what pleasure it would bring our older family members and friends to enjoy the regular video conferencing time that many of us as parents and grandparents appreciate. I have a friend whose family lives in South America who connects with them via Skype, and then leaves the camera on while the children are playing, giving the grandparents and other relatives the chance to delight in their antics. I would have loved to have had the same opportunity when my children were growing up in the 1980’s, three thousand miles away from their grandparents!
A virtual gifted community will also allow families to share photos and videos with grandparents and other family and friends. Gifted elders can continue to connect and collaborate with friends and colleagues through email and document sharing. Furthermore, with access to computers, elders can pursue diverse interests, study new subjects with MOOC’s (massive online open courses), learn a new language, and more. In short, providing a few computers in the day room of a facility or having touch sensitive tablets available to check out will provide elders with connection, communication, and continued cognitive growth, all benefits of a virtual community.
My next blog posting will continue this series, sharing another facet of my model, Responsive Environments for the Gifted Aging.
*Meaningful. Photo by Martin Gommel: martin_grommel/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0): https://goo.gl/onFGuF (cropped)