On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, the LCS cohort went to Bayside Community Center in Linda Vista, San Diego. Unlike in previous destinations, Bayside does not exclusively focus on elders, but rather, the community of Linda Vista as a whole. The director of the community center, Corey, described how Bayside was close to being shut down due to bankruptcy when he first took the helm as the community center’s director. However, he came across a real estate developer who specialized in building schools. After a year of negotiations, Corey managed to get approval for a state-of-the-art school to be built next to Bayside Community Center. Through this, Corey and the rest of the staff hoped that this would empower the residents of Linda Vista to improve their community through their own efforts.
On Wednesday, February 7, 2018, the LCS cohort held its weekly class meeting. This week, we were conducting presentations on the book, Selling the Fountain of Youth. This non-fiction book explores the inner workings of the anti-aging industry and how the movement started and gained popularity in the United States. Though products and chemicals utilized by the anti-aging industry, such as human growth hormone (HGH), are potentially harmful, the anti-aging industry plays upon the insecurities of Americans about aging and the physical changes that accompany it in order to convince them to buy products that promise to restore their youth and stop the progression of aging in its tracks. During the discussion on the stigma towards aging, comparisons were made between the modern anti-aging industry’s efforts to prevent aging with colonial-age efforts to prevent aging and death through alchemy. I reasoned that regardless of the efforts of the anti-aging industry, aging and death are issues that people in every era of history have had to face the reality of. In addition, efforts to slow or neutralize its progression and occurrence have also occurred in every era of history, all to no avail. Even after our generation is long gone, as well as the anti-aging industry and their campaigns, new generations of people will devise new methods through which they hope to stop aging and find that even they cannot delay the inevitable.
The next phase of the class supported the idea that aging is an enriching experience, rather than a disease, as it is painted out to be by the anti-aging industry. Those who did not do a book presentation showcased their Oral History Projects, in which they interviewed an elder family member and recounted several memories in great detail using old photographs from their life. The project is intended to bring cohort members closer with their elder family members. The stories that the cohort members’ relatives had to tell were fascinating, and it was wonderful to know that the project had strengthened the bond between them. This class has shown me how important communication is to strengthening the connection between young people and elders. There is so much to learn and many ways for young and elderly people to grow by sharing their ideas and experiences with one another.
For the last half hour of the class, two young men presented a project in which they collect old assistive devices, such as canes, wheelchairs, walkers and scooters, and give them to elderly people who cannot afford them. This idea came to them after one of the men witnessed an elderly man enter the hospital he volunteered at, and collapsed to the floor due to the long walk from the parking lot without a cane or other assistive device. The project serves several areas in San Diego County, and they also have an affiliation with the University of California, Riverside. I was inspired by their creative and entrepreneurial approach to helping lower-income senior citizens.
As always, I left class with a new perspective on aging, elders, and life overall. I’m looking forward to our site visit next week at Bayside and what the outing has in store for us.