AJN On the Cover
"The elderly need touch and intimacy, but that's overlooked in many nursing homes," says Beryl Skog, a nurse and the photographer of this month's cover photo. To address this issue, for the past nine years Skog has been running the Caring Circle, a discussion group for elderly residents of the Bergen County Health Care Center in Rockleigh, New Jersey. A forensic nurse at the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, Skog was familiar with the skilled nursing care center because her mother had been a resident there.
The group, which meets once a week for one hour, discusses everything from football to history to country music. During one of their meetings, the conversation turned to the senior prom—a rite of passage for many high school students that Skog discovered had been missed by several group members because of the war or because they hadn't attended high school. The group discussed the irony of being "seniors" who'd missed their senior prom, which led to the idea of holding a prom at the nursing home. Attendees dressed in gowns and tuxedos donated by local thrift shops and wore corsages made with the help of a horticulturist. The nursing home was decorated with a balloon arch. There was even a prom king and queen.
The photograph on the cover shows two of the residents, Elizabeth Bunch and Herschel Mosier, who decided to become engaged that night (the engagement didn't last, though they remain friends). "I love this picture because the couple is holding hands," Skog says. "The elderly need encouragement to relate to each other rather than just to the person running the group; intimacy among older adults is healthy and possible."—Alison Bulman, senior editorial coordinator