– Interview with Beth Farr –
“Who we are later in life is the culmination of a lifetime of who we were,” remarks “Cruise Coordinator,” Beth Farr. She is the Activities Director at Bridges Cornell Heights, a unique senior living center located in Ithaca New York. There is immense joy in this work, Farr makes clear. The ability to illuminate a person’s past, bridging visages of oneself and others in the present, demands incredible commitment and creativity. Through the following series of monologues, Farr responds to our community’s questions concerning the visibility of seniors throughout the Pandemic, and the guiding principles that have always inspired her work. Undaunted by the challenges of COVID-19, she highlights the ways in which caregivers have adapted, innovated and persevered, never wavering in their mission to “provide creative opportunities for social, emotional, physical, recreational and spiritual engagement while simultaneously respecting each individual’s autonomy.”
1.) Please describe your role at Bridges; your interest in working with the elderly, and your methods for engaging residents to participate in activities?
2.) Masks, of course, are disorienting for seniors and the gravity of COVID has put a chill on our interactions with the elderly throughout this ordeal. Can you describe how the Pandemic altered the atmosphere at Bridges and how both residents and staff have adapted? What challenges persist, and what kind of camaraderie has evolved, uniting both staff and residents in your efforts to contain the virus?
3.) Covid has stolen time from us all, but perhaps nowhere is the loss so pronounced as it is among the elderly who were counting on years brightened by visits from family. Likewise, the young, especially children, have missed opportunities to meet and to learn from their elders. What is the toll of this vanishing? How are members of the “Greatest Generation,” and the “Silent Generation” and others in your care—who have witnessed such a tumultuous century—internalizing events and offering perspective?
4.) What can be done now to increase awareness for both providers and recipients of end-of-life care in society?
5.) As we move past the pandemic and anticipate further generational shifts, what challenges do you foresee on the horizon for care providers? What resources are essential to navigate the hurdles ahead? If we’re to share in the rewards of knowing this segment of the population, how must the culture at large evolve to properly embrace, understand and better value the experiences of those in your care?
Beth Farr is often referred to as the “Cruise Coordinator” at Bridges. In her role, as Activities Director, Beth has expanded and enhanced the options available to residents and takes pride in enriching the life of each resident. Her background in fine arts, education and clinical art therapy, as well as her experience as a member of large interdisciplinary teams in NYC and Buffalo, make her well suited to oversee activities programming at Bridges. In her personal life, Beth enjoys walking her dogs, gardening, cooking and spending time with her family.