Intergenerational Index
The Grandfriends Project -- A Program Creating Friendships Across the Generations Martin Kimeldorf, the author

Assignment #2

This is the second assignment which follows the second chapter.


You will try different activities which show what it is like when one of your abilities or senses declines or is lost. In this assignment you'll "walk in someone else's shoes" to experience certain losses often associated with aging. When you try something this way it is called a "simulation." After you try the different activities, record your feelings and thoughts on this page. It is best if you do these activities with partners as you take turns trying the four different simulations.

  1. What would it be like if your vision got very blurry or limited?
  2. Materials Needed: glasses, Vaseline, phone book, pencil.

    To see what it might feel like, smear a pair of glasses with Vaseline or put on a pair of glasses with a strong prescription. Then try a task involving reading, such as looking up your partner's phone number and address in the phone book. Record your results.


    If your vision grew dim, would you lose interest in doing things you normally enjoy? How would this affect your attitude about yourself? Tell how this might affect you:

  3. How would you feel if your sense of taste was diminished?
  4. Materials Needed: Seasoned or strong tasting food like BBQ potato chips, mints, a garlic.

    Many older people lose their sense of taste and smell. To get a sense of what this might be like close your eyes and pinch your nose to simulate the loss of smell. Then, ask a partner to give you a bite of a seasoned or aromatic food. Guess what the food is.

    If you lost the sense of smell or taste, how would this affect your appetite? Would you still go out when invited to share meals? Would this cause you to reflect on your quality of life? Tell how this might affect you.

  5. What would happen if it was hard for you get around, to walk?
  6. Materials Needed: small pebbles

    If your joints ached, your ankles were swollen, or your knees didn't work so well it would be hard to enjoy a walk and do chores. To simulate what this might be like, put a small pebble in your shoe. Then walk the distance of two blocks.

    If it was hard to get around, would you tend to want to stay indoors all day? How would you feel when someone asks you to help out at a holiday gathering? Would you still want to travel, to take trips like vacations? Would your attitude change about your life? Tell how this might affect you.

  7. Could you cope with a loss of coordination?
  8. Materials Needed: pencil and paper A person's coordination tends deteriorate with age. Sometimes this is caused by a stroke where you totally lose the function in a limb. Other times, you gradually lose control or your hands develop a palsy (shaking). Everyone loses a bit of strength as their muscle mass declines in old age. To see what this could be like try writing a simple letter or grocery list using the hand you normally DON'T write with.

    If you couldn't write a list, cut with a scissors, or found that feeding and bathing yourself was difficult or impossible on your own, would you become bitter? Would you tend to be more angry more often? Would you feel sorry for yourself? Tell how this might affect you.

  9. Suppose you wanted to help the people recall their past.
  10. What might you do to help trigger their memories? Read about Sally, Bill and Angelina and try to think of creative ways to get them remembering their past.

    1. Sally, who is going deaf, probably can't hear music very well. What might you bring or show her to get her thinking about her life story, her past?

    2. Bill is almost totally blind. He can see the outline of your body. This is how he remembers you. What can you do to help Bill think about his past?

    3. Angelina loves food. She can taste and smell every meal. But, she has limited vision and hearing. What could you do to trigger her memories.

    4. You may be asked to put together a Memory Book for your Grandfriend. This is done later in the course. How does a Grandfriend benefit from having a Memory Book you create?

    5. What do you think could go in a Memory Book?

    6. Would your classmates to bring in items about their past to share with each other? What might be the benefits of doing this?

  11. Reflections About Aging Simulations
  12. Pick two topics below and write about them on a separate piece of paper. Tell which question you are writing about before you begin each answer.

    1. Suppose you were much, much older and you lost two of your senses or abilities. Which would be the most difficult for you to lose? How might your attitude change? What would you try to do to cope or develop a new outlook?

    2. Which simulation seemed the most realistic to you? Tell why and what you learned from it? How might these simulations prepare you to work with older people?

    3. Suppose your grandfriend acts odd one day. He or she might be unusually quiet or sad or, perhaps appear angry or make nasty remarks. If the person is normally kind or pleasant, how could you explain his or her changed behavior in terms of the simulations you just experienced? What might you do differently on a day when your grandfriend seemed aloof or unpleasant?

    4. Why do you think some people in nursing homes might be sad or depressed all the time?

    5. What philosophy or attitude do you hope you'll have when you grow very old and you lose some of your abilities or functioning?

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Martin Kimeldorf,
© 1999
All Rights Reserved.
Amby Duncan-Carr,
page designer
Material from both THE GRANDFRIENDS PROJECT, A Program Creating Friendships Across The Generations and the companion piece, PROJECT LEADER'S GUIDE FOR THE GRANDFRIENDS PROJECT, A Program Creating Friendships Across The Generations is reproduced here with the permission of the publisher, Fairview Press. Printing or downloading a single copy of this document for personal use is permitted; teachers may reproduce this document for use in a single classroom, only. Transmission in any form or further duplication is prohibited without the express written consent of the author. In addition, any use of the document code, itself, requires the written permission of the web page designer.

Kimeldorf Bibliography
Amby's Resources
Kimeldorf Autobiography

© 1999   Amby Duncan-Carr   All Rights Reserved.

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