Sylvia Choo is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in classics and a minor in biology. She currently works as a peer support moderator for a mental wellness start-up and volunteers with Virtual Park Bench in her free time.
Since October of 2020, I’ve been working with fellow Virtual Park Bench Volunteers Dan Guo and Fan Liu to lay the groundwork for bringing virtual Jeopardy to senior living residents, an activity to promote mental wellness and support cognitive function in older adults. During a weekly video call, roughly nine residents of the Eskaton Village Roseville community become avid game show contestants, playing through one round of 25 questions distributed across five different categories and wrapping up the game with one exciting Final Jeopardy visual. These categories come from a variety of subjects, including (but certainly not limited to) pop culture, history, science, and literature.
During a time when it is imperative to recognize and appreciate things that bring us joy, it is inspiring to see an atmosphere of learning and friendly competition among the older adults. After particularly puzzling clues (for example, “A self-help book for a woman on her wedding day” from a category called “Rhyme Time”), even though there is an initial silence as the contestants ponder the answer, the residents begin to laugh once they learn the answer that stumped them (“bride guide” being the answer to the previous clue if you also found it tricky). The residents celebrate one another’s victories as well, applauding whenever someone answers a particularly difficult question correctly or complimenting others on their areas of expertise. One of the residents has even become our dependable science expert because he always answers questions in that subject correctly!
We hope to offer this activity to additional Eskaton communities and perhaps even have friendly competitions between different communities so that even while physically apart, we are still able to challenge ourselves, make new connections and share our deep love of learning new things together.
For more information about Eskaton's volunteer program and how you can get involved, visit our website.