Senior citizens going back to school
NASHUA – Those at least 55 years of age can learn more about iPads, dive in to some creative writing classes, talk about history, music, science and a wide variety of other topics via the Rivier Institute for Senior Education program.
This year, nearly 60 classes will be offered to seniors between two sessions. The first session runs from Feb. 4 to March 15, while the second will go from March 18 to April 26. Of the 60 classes, 25 are new for 2019.
The RISE program offers seniors an opportunity to keep their minds active and get hands-on experience. In some cases, seniors aren’t the only ones who benefit. At the end of Rivier University’s 2018 fall semester, RISE members were able to participate in a simulation lab with Rivier’s nursing program.
For nursing students’ final exam, they visited with their “patients” through video chat, as their professors watched and graded them. Cheryl Bragdon, nursing lab coordinator, said health care continues to be a dynamic industry.
“Telehealth, (communicating digitally for health care) is the emerging modality for delivering health care,” Bragdon said.
She added that through telehealth, researchers are working to expand care to underserved populations. Students are learning techniques for how to do competency-based checkups when someone can’t come into the office.
These students, who are all currently registered nurses and are part of the university’s graduate program, can get direct feedback from their instructors after the simulation.
Multiple RISE members volunteered. The scenario involved patients getting a follow-up on issues with diabetes and blood pressure. The patients live too far away to come into the office, so they have to communicate via video chat.
The RISE volunteers were required to follow a script. The students asked their “patients” questions regarding their health, while their instructors were in another room watching. The nurses listened to their “patients” talk about their symptoms and advised them on how to proceed.
“This has been a great partnership with the RISE program,” Bragdon said. “We are fortunate for our RISE volunteers.”
Bragdon said this partnership creates a real, human connection for the students. In the simulation lab, students are able to work with mannequins as well, but working with RISE members allows them to practice their interactions.
“We also use different students for these simulations, but it is nice to have a variety of people,” Bragdon said.
George King, 92, who has participated in the RISE program for more than 10 years, was a volunteer in the simulation lab during the nursing students’ final. King has taken a number of classes through the years and teaches classes as well. For the spring semester, he will be teaching two classes in music.
King said one of the best things about teaching in the program is being able to teach from his heart. His academic curiosity was what drove him to participate in the RISE program.
“I’ve learned that school is a constant in the life of an active person and you can learn at any age,” King said.
He joked, “You may not be able to remember it, but you can learn it.”
King said going to RISE classes is more interesting than watching hours of television and “becoming a couch potato.” He believes everyone should keep their minds active.
“If you have lived 55 or 60 years and you don’t have something useful that you can pass on to other people, you have wasted your life,” King said.
Grace Pecci may be reached at 594-1243, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.