On Sunday February 19, Oceanside’s seniors visited Atria Nursing Home’s seniors. Each high school senior was paired with another Atria senior where we gave the women manicures and makeovers. This student-run project known as GlamourGals, inspires teens to join the movement towards ending elder isolation. Oceanside’s volunteers are now in their second year of running this chapter and as excited as ever to engage our fellow seniors.
My first GlamourGals experience was quite a memorable one. Upon arrival, I could see the excitement on the faces of the women. Even before we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves, it was obvious the staff was just as eager to get started.
Five members of the nursing home were wheeled in at a time, to pair with the five of us that had made the trip from Oceanside High School. Bea was the first woman to be seated and I took the seat opposite her. I began to introduce myself and ask for her hand and name in return only to get a mumble and groan. I soon was confronted by the aid who informed me that Bea was not verbal. However, this was not an inhibitor in any way and thus I proceeded to do her nails and converse with ease. Though Bea was not invested verbally in the conversation, her slight head nods and quiet ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers were enough to keep the discussion flowing. After completing the manicure, Bea politely smiled and exited the room. It warms my heart to have been given the opportunity to work with Bea.
Next, there was Laura. At first, Laura was quite shy and might I say a little impatient (as she was forced to wait to get her old nail polish off with nail remover), but nonetheless a great companion. I asked about her life before coming to Atria, the shows and theatre productions she’s attended, and even what she had planned for the rest of the day. Laura opened up immediately and even returned the questions to me. She previously lived in Brooklyn where she shared her love for the matinee and was interested to hear if I have ever attended myself. Also, her nails were extremely well-kept and made for a good surface for nail polish. She was ecstatic with the results as was I with my nail-skills, and she even said she’d hope to see me next time.
Finally, I met with Faith. I really enjoyed my time with Faith because she was interested in hearing everything I had to say. When choosing a color, she became flustered on which to choose so I chose a pastel purple that happened to match her blouse and she was immediately taken back by how nice the combination was. Once we began chatting, I soon realized she had extreme memory loss, though it didn’t pose a problem because all I had to do was simply repeat myself a few times here and there. A couple of times she had asked what job I was going to apply for after High School, only to hear the same response that I would be attending college this fall. Even though I had to repeat myself a few times about my college plans, I didn’t mind because each time Faith was attentively listening and trying her best to hear me out.
It’s so important to serve as a companion and friend for the seniors at Atria. I often visit my own grandparents which allows me to have an understanding and patient attitude when interacting with the elderly. High school seniors are often labeled as self-centered, self-absorbed, but this pairing between the two groups of seniors demonstrates that age certainly doesn’t have to be a barrier nor should it hinder any human connection or interaction. GlamourGals is a perfect way to get involved with your community and bridge the generational gap one makeover at a time!