College is a place where thousands of people come together every day to grow and learn as a community. Within the culture of the University of Maine, there are students from all over the world, each one having their own interests, hobbies and qualities. Hidden among these thousands is third-year student Hannah Dyer, who has invested much of her high school and college career into helping and working with the elderly.
“My job is to complete activities with patients who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. We do sensory activities and games to help the residents have a good quality of life and enjoy their time here,” Dyer said. “We have performers come in to sing or entertain the residents, and we have religious services for all denominations. I help direct the activities and am there if any of my residents need anything.”
Dyer works three days a week at Dirigo Pines Retirement Community in Orono, Maine as a life enrichment coordinator. She works with elderly residents to complete daily goals, tasks and helps to organize events. She also works one day a week at Ross Manor Retirement Community in Bangor, Maine.
“I started working at Dirigo Pines as a high school senior, and this job has been my biggest blessing to-date,” Dyer said. “I think of all the residents as my best friends, and I like working there because I get to know them and their families so well.”
Getting the job on a whim and deciding to stick with it to see if it was something she would enjoy, Dyer never thought that working at a retirement community was something she would fall in love with and come to find exciting, enjoyable and a privilege.
“I love building relationships with my residents and providing them joy. It’s very rewarding and makes you feel like you are really making a difference in this community and for the town that your college is located in,” Dyer said. “We always make sure we uphold their dignity and give them the best experience possible, which gives us the best experience possible.”
Dyer is studying English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She is involved in Greek life, Order of Omega, and serves as a Girl Scout troop leader in Orono.
“I love watching these girls grow and mature, while also developing leadership qualities and empowering one another,” Dyer said.
She grew up in Hermon, Maine, and went to Hermon High School.
“I came to UMaine after graduating high school because a lot of my family members have gone here in the past,” Dyer said. “My dad really pushed me to go here, and I am a first generation college student so I was excited to make my parents proud.”
She hopes to use her degree and work experience in a hospital one day and wants to continue helping elderly patients and locals in the Orono area and her hometown as well.
“UMaine has given me so many opportunities to get involved and develop leadership skills that I can take with me for the rest of my life,” Dyer said. “This place has really helped me figure out what I want to do and what path is right for me. Living in Maine has also helped me realize how much I love working at retirement communities, and helped me see how rewarding it is to have such a unique job.”