By Janelle Germanos, Communications Manager at the Alliance for Aging Research
We all have a story to tell. One story that connects all of us is the story of aging. All of us, at this very moment, are getting older. While getting older looks different for everyone, we here at the Alliance for Aging Research like to celebrate the common human experience of aging. It can be a difficult journey, but it’s a journey worth taking.
As the Communications Manager at the Alliance for Aging Research, I help increase awareness of the Alliance’s mission of improving the universal human experience of aging and health.
For over a year now, I have documented this universal human experience as producer of the Alliance’s podcast, This is Growing Old. We’re now at almost 30 episodes, all featuring inspiring stories about what it means to grow old today.
I started this podcast in June 2020, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. I had conversations with colleagues about what it would mean to launch a podcast in such difficult times, and how we would even be able to do this logistically, with all of us working from home. But, older adults were also at home, many alone and socially distant from support, and we wanted to do what we could to share helpful and hopeful messages to as many people as possible. So, we decided to go for it.
Now, nearly 30 episodes later, we’ve spread these messages by interviewing dozens of changemakers in aging. Each episode has brought new insights about what it means to grow old.
Starting this podcast during the COVID-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity to interview experts who are supporting older adults during this difficult time. Episodes of This is Growing Old have explored a variety of topics related to the pandemic, including:
- How to help older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Common misconceptions about COVID-19
- Why getting your flu shot is more important than ever
- Caring for caregivers during COVID-19
- How to stop the spread of COVID-19 misinformation
No matter the topic, these two questions that we ask every guest on our podcast always elicit the most inspiring and fun answers:
- When you were a kid, what did you imagine growing older would be like?
- What do you enjoy most about growing older now?
You never know what you’ll learn about someone when you ask them these questions.
Many guests have different experiences and thoughts when it comes to imagining what growing older would be like.
When we asked Gary Puckrein, President and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum, what he imagined growing older would be like, he talked about his fascination with Halley’s comet and his desire to live long enough to see it for himself.
Ramsey Alwin, President and CEO of the National Council on Aging, told us that as the daughter of a lobster fisherman, she recognized that while her father and his colleagues enjoyed their work, she noticed how hard it was for them to work “until their very last breath.”
Overwhelmingly, one thing that people seem to especially enjoy about growing older is the perspective it gives them.
“I think I boil it down to a few words: perspective, priorities, and willingness to take risks and to recognize that to really make change in this world involves failure as well as success, and that’s okay,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association for Area Agencies on Aging.
What do you enjoy most about growing older? If you are having trouble thinking of positive aspects of getting old, I encourage you to listen to This is Growing Old. I guarantee you will be inspired by our guests.
Let’s celebrate growing old together.
You can listen to This is Growing Old on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Anchor, and you can watch video recordings of the conversations on YouTube. Transcripts for the episodes are available here.
If you’re already a fan of This is Growing Old, it would help us out so much if you rated and reviewing us on Apple Podcasts!