Stefanie Kong is a premedical student working under the Stanford School of Medicine’s Center of Excellence in Diversity in Medical Education’s LEAP program to improve the health of local communities. In this blog post, she shares why she works as an intern with our linkAges Advocates Program.
Being a college student and caregiver to my grandmother, I recently became aware of how important social connections are in providing a high quality of life for seniors. These social determinants of health are hard to reconcile with the fact that our society often tends to push those who are not “young and able” to the margins.
For example, one of my dearest neighbors is now living in a senior home. Aside from his wife, some neighbors, and the nursing staff — the only company he gets is the television and a book. I have seen so many seniors like him who, despite their talents and rich life experiences, lose their sense of self-worth and contribution to the community as they age.
I am currently working as a linkAges intern and actively promoting linkAges TimeBank throughout the South Bay. This is because I believe that seniors and family caregivers are a valuable asset to their community and should still be connected to others in meaningful ways. All of us can benefit from connecting with the rich talents and experiences of seniors; I personally learned that from my time with my grandmother.
There needs to be an “infusion of youth” colliding with a “diversity of seniors” to create a culture of inclusion. It will help reinforce a positive mentality of youthfulness, a sense of community, and promote well-being for our older community members. In return, younger members will obtain role models of older adults and also be more conscious of the realities and journey of aging. This contact will hopefully prepare them to be positive about their own future experiences with aging.
I believe that by rebuilding community connections and being there for each other, we will be able to open up worlds for all of us and learn the important lesson of getting through life every step of the way, together.