on September 25th, 2015 1 Comment
There were big-time laughs, and the expected misty eye or two, at today’s Medicine X session on aging and longevity. Natrice Rese, a retired personal support worker, began the conversation with a moving ePatient Ignite! talk about how life for many older adults is less than “golden.” She told the audience how difficult time spent in a nursing home or care facility can be: “So many people wait to be fed, wait to be dressed, wait to be undressed, wait to be taken outside… When you’re dependent on care from others, your life is reduced to a waiting game.”
Her mother found herself in one such place at the age of 85, and Rese recalled how her mom pulled her aside one day and said, “Don’t come near these places – it’s not good here.” Her mother was in the throes of Alzheimer’s and unable to offer further details, but “her words stay with me today,” Rese somberly told the audience.
Rese said her mom’s comments ultimately reinforced her desire to work to make sure older adults feel appreciated and are able to “create memories that matter.”
Fellow panelist Barbara Beskind is certainly doing that – and more. The 91-year-old former occupational therapist made headlines when she landed a job at Silicon Valley design firm IDEO. Appearing at the conference alongside Dennis Boyle, a partner and founding member of the firm, she goes to the office every Thursday and is now working on a variety of projects related to aging – including a redesigned walker.
Younger designers “can’t put themselves in the shoes of the elderly,” Beskind told USA Today earlier this year. “People who design for the elderly think they need jeweled pill boxes or pink canes. We need functional equipment.”
“I admire you,” Rese told Beskind during a panel discussion, after hearing about Beskind’s contributions. “You shouldn’t be one of a few – you should be one of many.”