Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Frank Sinatra’s jazzy “Fly Me To The Moon,” and the classic “LOVE” by Nat King Cole are all included in “Nostalgic Nod,” a three-hour playlist curated for seniors from Pittsburgh Youth.
The song collection is one of more than 150 pieces of content produced by the non-profit media organization Elderly Embrace Care Network (EECN). Seniors storytelling podcasts, informative infographics on Instagram, and blog posts about hearing aids and Generation Z all aim to foster intergenerational dialogue and respect for the senior community.
Some of the curricula used with EECN.
The two-year nonprofit gained additional attention during the pandemic for its educational articles on the isolation of seniors and hatred of the elderly and Asia. While many seniors have been socially isolated from their loved ones in the past 15 months, 16-year-old co-founder and executive director Hannah Shin said loneliness was an issue long before 2020. She said the organization celebrated seniors instead of telling their stories as an afterthought.
“Spikes of COVID cases in nursing homes, as well as the rise in hate crimes against our elderly, are the debates when seniors were high on the news,” Shin said. “But we really wanted to create a platform where they would be talked about all the time.”
The aspiring senior of North Allegheny Senior High School started the nonprofit with her older brother Joseph, an aspiring senior at the University of Pittsburgh. Together with a team of colleagues, the duo has reached listeners in 14 countries with their podcast and collected thousands of page views across platforms.
A screenshot of the nonprofit podcast.
Part of EECN’s mission is education, including programs educating seniors about Generation Z and different types of hearing aids. The organization also trains caretakers on specific steps related to health and nutrition. For young people, the topics range from an introduction to Parkinson’s disease and dementia to the financial burdens of care in homes.
The bigger message beyond education is celebration and conversation. EECN hosted the National Senior Citizens Celebratory Challenge this fall to encourage teens to reflect on influential elders in their lives. Along with the playlist, the website offers a joke book and videos for playing Sudoku with a young person.
“We’re really looking at a holistic view of what we can do to make seniors laugh and smile, live better lives, and enjoy their time,” Shin said.