Residents at Trinity Glen gathered around the piano to sing “You Are My Sunshine” as Atkins High School student Yvonne Shih played. Shih is part of the school’s Future Health Professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club, which partnered with the senior living community to create the Adopt a Grandparent program.
Through the program, the students come in every week to spend time with residents by playing games, performing musical instruments, or just chatting about their lives.
“It’s a blast. It’s nice to be able to spend some time with the seniors and I also really enjoy sharing music with everybody,” Shih, who has been playing piano for 10 years, said. “I love playing the piano at senior living communities. I actually do it at other ones. It’s always really fun and meaningful.”
HOSA Co-Advisor Lindsey Renfro said the idea for the program came from a former CNA student who spent time at Trinity Glen. The student was concerned with the lack of interaction that she and her peers had with older generations, and also wanted to help combat loneliness.
“She saw how much the people (residents) enjoyed talking to someone her age, and she saw it making a difference,” Renfro said.
The program began this school year and since then, besides the holidays, students have stopped by to visit at least once a week.
“I think they’ve gotten so much out of talking and building the relationship with someone that is not in their age bracket,” Renfro said. “All of our HOSA students want to go into healthcare as a career. So this is a really good gateway for them to get used to talking to someone they might not have very much in common with. That has helped in gaining some soft skills.”
And for residents like Dick Cross, it’s a chance to teach the younger generation about decades past.
“I’m a chronic teacher and I like to teach young people, to pass on information to them,” Cross said. “They are so receptive. I’ve told them things about what happened an ion ago.”