These Assisted Living Residents Are Going Viral for Their Heartwarming "Back to School" Photos
"There's so much value and so much worth in our senior citizens."
In recent years, parents have been taking first day of school photos of their children proudly holding signs that list their age, their grade, and some of their favorite things. Usually, the answers are under 10, under 5th, and princesses and/or dinosaurs. But the residents of Garden View Assisted Living in Carroll, Iowa, decided to have their own fun and recreate this popular "back-to-school" trend with a very sweet spin. They took pictures holding up a white board featuring their age, the year they graduated, and their advice for students today.
In just a few days, the photos have gone viral, touching the hearts of the many people who've seen them.
Garden View Assisted Living director Kari Nuzback told Best Life she first got the idea to do the photo series from a friend who told her about about a facility that had done something similar. Two days later, she made it happen.
And the residents were immediately on board with the idea. "They're a really fun and outgoing group, so they didn't think twice about it," Nuzback said.
For example, meet Marie, who graduated "many moons ago" and hopes that kids today "do the best [they] can and have fun doing it."
Even staff members took part in the fun, like Gina, who joked that she's "older than dirt" and graduated in the class of "wouldn't you like to know."
The photos were posted on Facebook on August 23, and they've received more than 11,000 likes and tons of love and and support since then.
"This is WONDERFUL!" Facebook user and teacher Sara L. Quigley wrote in the comments. "I have saved your post to show to my students. Thank you so much to all of the participants for their sage advice! I was also quite surprised at the ages of the residents—they are looking quite spry and healthy!"
Nuzback said they were "shocked" that the photos took off the way they did.
"We're very happy in our close-knit, rural community, so for us to be getting messages from people in Canada and Japan is overwhelming, but it's amazing."
She hopes the photos let people know that life doesn't have to stop being fun after a certain age and that they change the way people traditionally view assisted living facilities.
"Of course, every elderly person wants to stay in their own home if they can because that's what they are used to, but, a lot of times, you gain independence by coming to an assisted living facility because you have so much more choice," Nuzback said. Plus, "your children get to be children instead of caregivers."
"We provide so much fun and so much socialization," she added, noting the facility has a pub and that they do themed nights once a month. Recently, it was Woodstock.
Before that, it was a luau. "Honestly, it's like Halloween every month here," she said.
Most importantly, Nuzback hopes the photos encourage people to visit with and cherish the elderly folks in their lives.
"They're the most vibrant people and such a vault of information and, unfortunately, they're kind of overlooked sometimes," she said. "There's so much value and so much worth in our senior citizens, and clearly the world wants more of them."
And for more inspiring photos, check out This Photographer's Stunning Portraits of Elderly Couples Will Make You Believe in Love Again.
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