Senior Jack Evans is spending his Senior Project with fellow senior Luka Okropirashvili working at the Barnes Jewish Extended Care Center in Clayton.
Barnes Jewish Extended Care is a part of the Bethesda Health group and is a nursing home that works with mentally ill patients. A large majority of the residents are elderly.
“So I'm basically working with the elderly people; some have dementia, Alzheimer's, and then others are more mentally there but they just can't take care of themselves. Some people have really bad arthritis. But then there's also some younger people with mental disabilities,” said Evans. “And we just pass time with them.”
Evans noticed that many of the opportunities offered by SLUH involved working in schools. However, he wanted to work with the elderly instead.
“I decided to switch over to a nursing home-type place, because I think I like the slow pace. That's more how I can help people,” said Evans. “I'm a good listener, I would say. And I really like just listening to what they have to say, and I'm getting as much out of it as they're getting out of it from me.”
During his time at SLUH, Evans has completed many service hours, but his experience at the nursing home is nothing like he’s ever experienced before.
“I'm getting a totally different perspective than anything I've ever had before,” said Evans. “I've kind of been thrown into this place. It's really different from anything I've done. I think I'm becoming more empathetic and aware of what people go through and people who aren't as fortunate as I am.”
Evans sees this adventure as a fulfilling closure to his service time at SLUH.
“I think it's a good cap to the time at SLUH because they teach you through theology classes, and in general how to be a Man for Others,” said Evans. “And then now we're actually applying it, which is really great. And not a lot of places get structured time to do this the way that we do, so I think just being able to live out like the Jesuit ideals and things is really important because otherwise it would feel kind of hollow if you're just learning things, but never actually do anything with them.”
Evans goes to the nursing home every day from 9 to 4. He enjoys playing various games with the residents.
“It's different every day, pretty much. There's a lot of trivia, bingo, Hangman, Uno is a huge (game). Then just like every board game ever, and then also things like puzzles. And then we'll also just talk to them,” said Evans.
Evans enjoys the time he spends with the residents.
“My favorite part is probably this one woman who has dementia. I think just seeing new faces, really it's brought a spark. She seemed kind of sad at first, but then we got to know her. We'll just start singing a song with her and her eyes will light up. She's like, super happy. I just really enjoy it. It's really special for me and them because they probably don't get a lot of excitement anymore. And it's really nice to see them get really excited. Just doing small things and giving them the dignity that sometimes they don't get as being elderly people and sometimes forgotten by society, I think.”
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