While working as a nurse assistant in a skilled nursing facility,
Bethany Blanchard was struck by the unmet leisure and social
participation needs of the facilityâs residents.
âAgain and again as a nurse assistant, I witnessed the depression and
frustration that older adults often experience when they no longer
participate in activities that they value because of age-related health
limitations or financial and transportation/mobility barriers,â says
Blanchard, an occupational therapy student at Boston Universityâs Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
âFrequently, the older adults that I cared for explained to me that the
activities that were available to them, such as bingo, were either
uninteresting or infantilizing.â
As a Schweitzer Fellow,
Blanchard has dedicated herself to changing that. Drawing on her
training as a visual artist, she launched an art instruction program for
residents of Irving B. Matross Covenant Houseâa
program aimed not just at providing challenging, creative leisure
activities, but also atÂ promoting cross-cultural interaction among
older adults who are at risk for social isolation due to cultural and
language barriers. Blanchardâs ultimate goal? To create a
self-sustaining art program that empowers older adults to assume
leadership roles in their community.
Click here to continue reading today’s Five Questions for a Fellow interview with Blanchard on ASF’s official blog.