Students Keep History Alive in Talks With Seniors

Talking with Seniors (L.A. Times, reg required)
Members of a Pierce College sociology class are writing biographies of participants in an older adult program held at the school.

For some seniors, the sessions provide an opportunity to ponder what they still want to accomplish.

“It’s a wonderful way for students to learn historical events in a personal context. Older adults can begin to figure out where they will be in the decades ahead,” said Donna Benton, a USC assistant research professor in gerontology. She runs the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center at USC’s Andrus Gerontology Center and is familiar with the process called life review.

It also gives students a chance to dispel stereotypes about seniors and become more comfortable with the aging process, Benton said.

“[Before the interviews] young people might think that older people aren’t sexual or that they are all bad drivers. By talking to this generation, they learn from them,” Benton said. “It teaches people that aging doesn’t mean you just get old and sick. It takes away the fear of getting old.”

To find a partner, the 24 students in Marenco’s sociology class met with participants of the Encore/OASIS Older Adult Program at Pierce College, which offers classes, lectures and workshops to adults 50 and older. They talked among themselves until they found a suitable partner.

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 29, 2004 in • Oral history in the news
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