A Stunning Elder Interview

Today, I will focus on something that I personally experienced recently, within my 6 month job search efforts. I will preface it by saying that I always seem to get the interview, make it to the final 2 or 3, and then they hire the other person who happens to be younger for reasons that vary greatly. The other person already has their Master’s degree or speaks Mandarin, or something else. I AM starting to think it has something to do with my age;)

To say that the interviewer was stunned when she saw me would be a mild assessment. I looked lovely if I do say so myself, in my soft pink pearls and blouse with elegant matching scarf. I had some fun socks and patent designer loafers on with black pencil slacks. My attire was entirely appropriate for the job at hand so I know that wasn’t what was stunning her.  At 58 years of age, I had adhered to all of the advice from headhunters, friends, business associates, and my college professors to not reveal my age in my resume. Of course my resume shows that I graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science and that I am in my 2nd year of graduate school so why shouldn’t there be an assumption that I am in my 20’s, or 30’s, and surprised to see me standing there in front of her? Why, because then it would be “Agism” and getting people to realize that is the first step to appreciating what a seasoned new hire could offer, and get past it.  

To be clear, the person that interviewed me when I introduced myself was only momentarily stunned, immediately got past it, and recovered professionally and courteously. I thought about the look on her face when she first saw me and at first I didn’t know what the look represented until later during the interview by some of the questions she asked. She was deft at getting the answers she needed without really asking. I was impressed. We ended up having one of the longest interviews I have had with many commonalities between us. She had me take an integrity test with over 150 questions on it that made me smile since I am a Rotarian and live by the 4-Way Test, “Of the things we think, say, or do, is it the truth; is it fair to all concerned; will it build goodwill and better friendships; and is it beneficial to all concerned?” The test was like many we studied in undergraduate work so it was fine.

I left liking her very much, and with a good feeling, knowing that I could help her reach the company goals she had set. With my high energy and previous experience in the same field, the job would be an excellent fit. Over 90% of their clients are seniors and with my Gerontology training, it would be a bonus to them. She did give me the salary range and said I would be hearing from her soon. If the opportunity passes, that’s fine too since I would only want to work for a company that appreciates the grace and wisdom of an experienced employee that appreciates intergenerational workplaces and can pass it on to their customers and other staff members. I will remain optomistic and hope that she sees the potential in hiring me, a stunning, seasoned 58 year old, if I do say so myself.

Thanks for reading;)

Aging Healthy is Diverse

We are all aging from the time we are born but managing aging is diverse. For different cultures managing recuperation from illness varies especially as it relates to pain. The Brits are taught from an early age to “Have a stiff upper lip” while we Americans have heard over and over, “No pain, no gain.” Italians just started discussing some medical issues within the family like breast cancer within the last generation, and they pray about it.  Collective societies like the Chinese all pitch in to get the best result. Mexicans tend to take care of themselves, and along with Blacks, look to their places of worship to get through difficulties. My source for this information, besides my own experiences, came from Mehrotra Wagner’s book, “Aging and Diversity.” Of course there are differences among many within their own ethnic groups but the point is that we should be considering their differences.

Too often we see medical practitioners and long-term care agencies handling everyone the same way. There are movements to change this within the Ageing field. For instance, The Jewish Home in San Francisco is a good model. They not only cook for their clients’ cultures and beliefs but offer counseling and religious services within the perameters of their Jewish faith.

Other considerations to be made are that some have hearing and sight deficits, but not all. Simply because a person has gray hair isn’t a reason to talk louder, for instance. I say it all the time that we shouldn’t assume anything. If a person can’t talk doesn’t mean that they aren’t in pain. Stroke victims may be able to blink once for “yes” and twice for “no.” We shouldn’t assume that they can’t communicate because they can’t talk.

By learning about the ethnicities of the diverse people we are caring about, and caring for, we may be able to take te pain threshold down a notch. At least we can all try.

Working with Seniors, Check Your Ego at the Door

I used to fancy myself a somewhat “cool” person, “in the know,” and had the right contacts, the right friends and went to the “hip” places. Then I began working with seniors. They have seen it all, done it all, and usually know it all…really. They really do. I began to feel like a “poser.” Once I realized that I could learn from these wonderful people, I began to listen, and actually gain knowledge from their wisdom. Instead of seeing them as someone who is “doddering but dear” as one of my gerontology books put it, I realized they were of substance and great value. A commodity in the aging field to be worshipped! Don’t get me wrong, this realization didn’t happen overnight. I began as early as childhood, going to my Great Aunts and Uncles, and Grandmothers and Grandfathers for advice that I could count on. This blossoming understanding continues every day. Seriously, I would love to listen to anything that many of today’s seniors have to say. Today’s seniors include people that many of us don’t think of as seniors because they are prominent like David Letterman, Gloria Steinham, your doctor perhaps, and we listen to them. So why don’t we listen to the guy next door with just as much attention? He might have advised his son who started Google, for all we know. Why not take the time and listen? Why not indeed!

Recently, I was a guest at a meeting where there were all these people supposedly “in the know” about seniors. They talked around in circles for 2 hours and couldn’t make a decision to do something for the public on the month that represents what they are all about. I finally had to ask them why and another guest backed me up. They finally did decide to do something for community outreach but not without insuring that their party for themselves could be done as well. I was stunned that these people professed to understand working with seniors. I’m not naming names because many of them serve spectacularly away from this group, but please people check your ego at the door when you go to help seniors in any manner! Every one that gets helped is probably worth ten of you! No kidding! You only have to listen to them, be patient, and leave your ego at home. You might be surprised at what you can learn and it might even help you in your business. Remember, they were once too busy to take the time to listen too!

Thanks for reading;)