News Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

When I’m 64: What will our future be?

Written by Kim Furlow, Institute for Public Health

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More than 50% of first-year students at WashU this fall will likely find themselves living to age 100; most all will see their eighth and ninth decade. What will this longevity revolution look and feel like? As they age, what can students expect in terms of healthcare, employment, housing, and relationships?

Beginning August 30, students enrolled in the “When I’m 64” course (registration is open now!) will work with multidisciplinary faculty and graduate students, local organizations and experts in aging to learn how they can help transform society as they age. The course features lectures, activities and small group discussion, and interaction each week in class with older adults from local organizations like STL Village, a local non-profit that “assists people 50+ to age in their own homes with 24/7 access to a full range of activities and support services for safe and socially-connected living.” Read a recent blog from a “When I’m 64” student from STL Village.

In its eighth year, the course is co-led by the Director of WashU’s Friedman Center for Aging, Nancy Morrow-Howell, PhD, who is also the Bettie Bofinger Brown Distinguished Professor of Social Policy at the Brown School. Other lead faculty include Brian Carpenter, PhD, professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences, and Susy Stark, PhD, associate professor of occupational therapy.

Morrow-Howell says students like the fact-based presentations and small group work on individual issues, which also help break down biases against older persons and can often have an impact on a student’s vocational path.

“We hope that the course affects both the personal and professional lives of the freshman students; and we hope to convince them that they should work to reduce ageism in our society because it affects everyone — and it certainly will hamper their ‘future selves’ — when they are 64 (and well beyond)!” says Morrow-Howell.

Past class participants have expressed surprise at how much they learned about aging that overturned their stereotypes and started them thinking about their own aging. “It prepared me to think about how I’m going to manage my finances, how I’m going to have to deal with my health later in life, how I’m going to have to choose a great place to live where I have access to transportation and other things,” one student reflected.

Morrow-Howell and the course instruction team hope that students come away with the idea that no matter how old you are, aging issues are relevant. “From family roles and caregiving, to healthcare for older adults and the myriad of career choices in aging, we want students to understand that they can create the innovations that will help propel our aging society into the future.”

Read more about the When I’m 64 course and register, (find course L61 FYP 123 under First Year Programs).

Listen to a podcast about the course here.