Words by Smiley Team
Care and community for the elderly – especially in the United States – can be hit or miss. As people get older, the programs and communities they have access to can change, and the ones available don’t always provide the stimulation people need.
The Oasis Institute looks to fill in that gap. So, how did it come about?
“Our founder, Marylen Mann, a lifetime educator, was interested in what was happening to older adults, as she looked at her parents aging when she was in her 40s,” Oasis Director, Paul Weiss tells Smiley News.
“And she was horrified by what she found happening at senior centers, and at public and private senior-serving organizations, where they'd get a meal – or play bingo – but there wasn't much that stimulated them. Marylen's mantra became, ‘We can do better.’”
The Oasis Institute is coming up to its 40th anniversary, and in that time they’ve helped older Americans adapt to a more active lifestyle, and with time, the technological age.
“An older adult who hasn't had a career where they had a laptop or desktop or a smartphone... is likely to be digitally disconnected,” says Paul.
One of the larger programs that the Oasis Institute hosts is an “intergenerational tutoring” program, where Oasis members are trained to tutor primarily younger students.
“There's a two-day very immersive training,” says Paul. "We provide books and have curricula attached to them for how to read. We give manuals to the kids where they can put the words that they've learned, and where they can talk about themselves and develop their storytelling."
The Oasis Institute wants to promote ongoing learning among older people – and this is also shown through its community learning and enrichment programs.
“Multiple cities have walking clubs going; we have a couple of cycling clubs and about 600 exercise classes happening all over the country," says Paul.
"We have about 700 lifelong learning classes happening at any given time. We have older adults finishing up tutoring in school – some are still doing it virtually. And we have some that are getting recruited to do summer tutoring in library environments, as well as others planning to take trips this summer for the first time post-pandemic through our travel programs.”
SUPPORT: Find out ways to support Oasis Institute so they can continue the work they're doing to support older people.