Topics on Aging

By Juan Gallo

What do we think of when we think of aging?

February 1, 2022

A dated black and white photo depicts a man in a suit open to show a tie and sunglasses, walking on the sidewalk with a boy, in a suit that's buttoned closed.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “senior citizen?”

I wonder if what we picture is a silver-haired white man. A senior citizen is probably retired and living their best life in a retirement community. We picture senior citizens riding around in their golf carts and filling their time with crossword puzzle and rounds of bingo.

We avoid picturing people who are lonely, sitting by themselves in a care center, without visitors to check in on them. We avoid thinking of people who are at home, isolated, unable to drive and without family nearby.

I wonder how different cultures view their aging loved ones. How do those varied experiences inform our response across the diversity we find in South Florida?

Within this blog, I want to have a frank conversation about what it means to age in our society. I want us to consider what a wider range of diverse experiences can tell us about aging. I want to talk about what defines “old.”

Within this blog, I want to have a frank conversation about what it means to age in our society. I want us to consider what a wider range of diverse experiences can tell us about aging. I want to talk about what defines “old.” I want to reflect on how we, as a community, want our neighbors and our mothers and fathers and our grandparents to live out their latter decades of life. I want us to consider each one of their voices as we strive to meet their needs.

I want to talk about how each one of us envisions ourselves living out those years.

At Heart2Heart, we strive not only to improve the experiences of aging adults we encounter. We also want to influence how our community thinks and talks about “seniors.”

These days, so many older adults are choosing to (or forced to) work longer and longer. We can’t define “a senior” as a person who is retired.

So: At what age does a person become a senior? At what age do they need extra support and help from their loved ones and the community?

The answer varies person by person. That’s why we like to refer to the “aging community” when we talk about the people we serve at Heart2Heart.

The truth is we’re all aging. The truth is we’ll all become “seniors” one day.

How do you define who is a “senior” is in our community? I’m curious to hear different perspectives. Leave your thoughts below.

A dated black and white photo depicts a man in a suit open to show a tie and sunglasses, walking on the sidewalk with a boy, in a suit that's buttoned closed.

Juan’s grandfather, Gustavo Gallo, and his father, John Gallo, walk in Colombia.

Read more about:
Juan Gallo
Juan Gallo is the CEO of Heart2Heart Outreach, where he oversees the mobilization of volunteers to provide hope, share love and restore purpose to the lives of the aging population across South Florida.

He also serves as a local pastor and as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, where he is teaching a course on diversity and aging. Juan has a master’s degree in counseling and psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor intern.

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