More than 120 people from throughout the NRV attended “My Way”, a one-of-a-kind theatrical performance at Warm Hearth Village on April 19th . The event represented an innovative collaboration between students and faculty at the Center for Gerontology and staff, residents and family of Warm Hearth where research on the decision-making process of moving from home to a care setting was adapted into a theatrical production with the goal of helping others facing the same decisions and challenges navigate the process.
Dr. Pamela Teaster, Ph.D., Director of The Center for Gerontology led the effort by engaging students and faculty in a research study where more than 30 families were interviewed after having made the transition to a health care setting at Warm Hearth Village. Questions focused on the challenges, fears and obstacles in making the decision and learning how each was overcome as the move took place. The data collected remained anonymous and was used to develop a three-vignette comedy written and directed by Mardy Baker, Life Enrichment Director at Warm Hearth and performed by resident and professional actors. The vignettes focused on the denial of seniors of the need for more help and the stress this places on family caregivers; a comical space-age solution to the decision making process where an impersonal computer program “My Way 3000” makes the tough decisions for you and an intimate look inside a couple’s struggles to acknowledge the effects of dementia on their relationship and living situation and ability to make decisions for their future.
Following the performance, the audience, with the help of table hosts, discussed key messages and personal life experiences in an effort to apply the research in an meaningful way. Audience members were wowed by the partnership and many came away with new insights and appreciation of the trials associated with the aging process.