Interns conducted focus groups with 34 seniors of different racial, levels of wellness and socioeconomic backgrounds. The goal was to integrate seniors into activities with interns to maximize the opportunities for student reflection and teaching empathy.
The focus groups included seniors living in public housing with limited mobility; healthy seniors living independently in assisted living apartments with more restrictive mobility and ailments; and healthy seniors who were very active and living alone.
Interns began with icebreaker activities. Interns competed against seniors in bingo and Walk in the Shoes activities, such as threading a needle, assembling a puzzle or filling a pill box. The In-terns were timed on completing these tasks opposite seniors, while simulating constraints of aging, such as having corn in their shoes and wearing gloves and fingers taped to simulate arthritis; ear plugs to simulate loss of hearing; and reading sunglasses to simulate impaired vision. Without exception, the seniors beat the interns in every task, which surprised the interns.