Ah, the good old days. That's what many residents are discussing during one of the many fun and exciting group exercises and sessions offered to seniors at Albright LIFE, 901 Memorial Ave. Coined the Reminiscence Group, meetings are spearheaded by social workers Allison Brion and Fran Decker.
The group addresses and discusses a different topic each month. Past topics of discussion and reflection have included holidays, life during World War II and school years. The participants meet twice a month for 30 minutes and according to staff, the response from residents has been overwhelmingly positive.
Exercises during the sessions include cognitive trivia and word games. Premade packets from Ross Library, Lock Haven, provide the group with kits that contain tools to lead discussions and visual aids to enhance the experience for the residents.
According to Brion, the discussions are good memory exercises, particularly for people who suffer from short-term memory loss or some other form of dementia.
"The participants truly enjoy themselves and the group meetings stress the importance of their contributions throughout their lives, to both their family and friends and to the community as a whole," she said.
Besides the wonderful memories of years past, the group sessions provide residents with a lot of smiles and tons of laughter.
Sue Berta, activities director at Albright, said the residents offer a lot of cute stories and funny things that happened in their lives. She said people who attend the Reminiscence Group really shine and open up.
"Some can't remember a few weeks back, but they can remember 50 years ago," she said. "You see a whole new side of them and you learn a lot."
Marketing Coordinator Tracy Haas agreed and said the residents are great educators. The vast majority are local and remember things that no longer exist, for example - paying $1 for 5 gallons of gas.
During one session, the topic of discussion was work life and many of the residents took turns reflecting on jobs they had throughout their lives. Some discussed their favorites, while others focused on their least favorable.
According to Audrae Rudy, she once made .50 cents an hour. Beverly Smith, who attended school for half days and worked as a clerk during the afternoons, said she remembers bringing home $12 a week - a far cry from the wages earned in today's workforce.
Florence Bennett, who shared with the group her experiences nursing young children, eventually working in a nursing home later in life. According to staff at Albright, many of the residents today were the caregivers of yesterday.
Whether they were a homemaker, caregiver, clerk or factory worker, one thing is for certain - they all worked hard!
Josephine C., who worked in her parent's orchard as a child, was the second oldest of 12 siblings. She raised kittens and also cared for her brothers and sisters. As an adult, she practiced nursing for more than 43 years.
"We were busy, but there was no such thing as complaining," she said. "That's something we just didn't do."
LIFE participant Betty Miller reminisced about her days as a clerk at the A&P.
"I loved my job, but I haven't had a headache since I retired," she said.
Former companies that residents once worked at include Hills Department Store, L.L. Stearns, F.W. Woolworth Company and Sylvania.
Albright Life, a faith-based nonprofit corporation, offers care options combined with activities and programs. For more information, visit www.albrightcare.org or call 322-5433.