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Baruch at Galileo High School

Thoughts on Aging: Preparing for Old Age

Posted February 12, 2014

MOWSF Blog | Senior Issues

Baruch speaking at a MOWSF volunteer training.Recently a high school health class invited me to speak to them about aging, about Meals On Wheels of San Francisco (MOWSF), and about volunteering to help seniors. I thought this would be a fun challenge. While waiting in the school office for my escort, I noticed a poster headlined with these words, “College and Career Preparedness.” Those words gave me the ‘hook’ I for my presentation. I told the class about noticing the poster and talked a bit a bit how we can prepare in many ways for our life’s unfolding. But I challenged the class on this issue of aging: how do/can we prepare for becoming old?

My thoughts on aging often run along the lines of the mystery of how we age. Even though we know intellectually that we will grow and become old, we literally cannot imagine the particular way that phenomenon is going to happen to me. There I was in a class of 14 and 15 year olds asking them to imagine what they are going to be like – feel like – in 50 years. I think some of the students were intrigued and this segued into talking about the various needs of seniors, including the big three: food security, a safe environment, and meaningful social interaction. I talked about how MOWSF helps to provide all three, and how volunteers help us accomplisher our mission.

In addition to talking about the specific ways in which they could volunteer their time and energy to MOWSF, I gave them a bigger challenge: to start consciously looking at and noticing seniors as they go through their lives. And to become more curious regarding how seniors in this city actually live. For example, the class had no idea that a short two miles away from where we were, large numbers of seniors live very isolated lives in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) residences. I asked them to imagine their living in an SRO 50 years from now. It was a stretch, I know, but my goal was to help them try to imagine the unimaginable.

Standing in front of a group of high school freshman was a stretch for me – trying to imagine, to remember what it was like for me those many years ago when I was in high school and how I might have thought about preparing for my old age. I enjoyed my time with the students and I hope I gave them something new to think about. And I hope at least some of some of them will start to pay more attention to seniors and that by paying attention they will help themselves prepare for their own old age.

“Thoughts on Aging” is a column by Baruch Gould, MOWSF’s Manager of Volunteer Programs, on issues related to seniors and aging. You can reach him at bgould@mowsf.org.

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