Due to the high risk of COVID-19, members of assisted living facilities have been isolated from the rest of the community since March. Loved ones are missing the wisdom they once often gained from their elderly friends and family.
In hopes of receiving the enlightened advice many of us are longing for, anonymous Mississippi State University students wrote in questions for Starkville's senior citizens through an Instagram poll conducted by The Reflector. The residents at Montgomery Gardens Assisted Living facility were kind enough to offer some socially distanced wisdom.
Edie Thomas, a senior biological sciences major, expressed she especially cherishes connections with the community's senior citizens after the loss of her grandparents.
"I lost both sets of my grandparents by the time I entered high school, so I take any chance I can get to connect with and learn from the elderly," Thomas said. "Not having that type of relationship in my life anymore makes me appreciate the wisdom that the older generations pass down."
Candy Tranum is the lifestyle coordinator for Montgomery Gardens. She was given a set of the students' questions and asked two of her favorite residents for their thoughts. Phillip Flynn, also known as "Coach", is a resident at the assisted living facility. He answered two anonymous questions from students, making sure to sprinkle in some dating advice for Generation Z. When asked what advice took him the longest to learn, his answer was short and simple.
"You can't trust every woman you meet. When I met one I did trust, I married her! She was a special one," Flynn said.
He went on to share the best advice he ever received from his own parents.
"If you're going to do a job, do it well," Flynn said. "My dad once told me that if I ever had a job that I thought I may lose, I better find another one."
Another resident, Katie Kimborough, shared a faith-based approach to the anonymous questions. She shared her thoughts on words to live by.
"Pray, be kind to others and live a godly life," Kimborough said.
Much like Flynn, Kimborough also was looking to offer a piece of dating advice. She chose to answer the following question of what qualities to look for in a future partner.
"Choose someone honest, caring, loving, a hard-worker and most importantly, godly," Kimborough said.
The students looking for advice not only hoped to gain answers that may reflect the wisdom of their late grandparents but were also interested in learning from the past. Evan Glass, a senior finance major, mentions the notion of learning from previous decisions.
"It's important to connect with senior citizens because making mistakes that have already been made would move us backwards. We want Generation Z to make the world a better place and move forward. In order to do that, we must learn from the older and wiser generations," Glass said.
Thomas also recognizes it is important for young people to understand different perspectives.
"As college students, we are in a chapter of life where our views are being shaped, and it is important that we expose ourselves to different perspectives. Elderly people have wisdom to pass on that is useful to the forming of our opinions and choices. We can not only learn from their mistakes but also follow in their paths," Thomas said.
Although the people of Starkville are now more physically separated than ever, the sense of community cannot be broken. From seniors in college to senior citizens, MSU students recognize the importance of learning from community members.