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Penn State - Harrisburg Students Bond with Middletown Home Residents

Posted: December 15, 2017

For several weeks of a human development and family studies course titled “Perspectives on Aging,” Penn State Harrisburg students are paired with residents at a continuing care retirement community to mine their memories and deepen their understanding of each other in ways they didn't expect.

Such intergenerational engagements are common occurrences in Dr. Patty Aguilera’s HDFS 434 course. Over a nine week period, students and older adults work together on a project workshop called “My memories, my legacies.” As noted by Dr. Aguilera, the intervention is based on the principles of narrative therapy and positive psychology.

The students lead a guided autobiography and co-create a scrapbook with the senior participants. Students prepare sensitizing questions about different themes, and through friendly conversations, seniors gain a new perspective on their own life story. Together, seniors and students develop a scrapbook where seniors portray feelings, successful experiences, and memories from the perspective of the present.

To see highlights from the course's culminating activity (for the Fall 2017 semester), check out the article published in Penn State News (12/8/17), entitled, Sharing stories bonds students and senior citizens, enhances quality of life.