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WHAT An aging awareness program that helps young people better understand the elderly by sharing experiences with each other. Young people walk in the shoes of elderly by participating in sensory exercises and feel what it is ike to grow old.
WHY To increase awareness of senior citizens, foster empathy for the elderly and eliminate some of the myths around the perception of aging.
WHEREUniversity of Illinois Extension .Developed by Molly Hofer.
4-H Awareness Project.
4-H Clubs.
Urbana, IL,USA.

Program Description

"You will not actually walk in another person's shoes, but you will learn to understand older people better by sharing their experiences. You will learn, through many activities, what it feels like to grow older and what happens to our bodies as we age."

Intergenerational learning takes place when young people understand that sensory changes in vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste can affect the way older people perform the activities of daily living such as opening a pill bottle, walking up and down stairs, smelling a flower or
reading a tablet.

Some of the topics youth will learn in the Walk in My Shoes Program include:

-Becoming aware of attitudes toward aging and older people.
-What is true and what is not true about aging and older people.
-The aging process and the physical changes that occur.

-How living with physical and sensory changes affects older people.
-How to communicate with older adults who have sensory loss.
-To develop intergenerational linkages within families and communities

Young people chose an older adult interested in helping them with the program. Participants engage in aging simulation activities and discuss talking points and share perspectives on aging. Participants are then asked to share what they learned from the program.

Discussion prompts which help may uncover aging related stereotypes are provided by the Walk in My Shoes Program and include:

  • Older people are set in their ways.
  • Older people love children.  
  • All older people are pretty much the same.
  • Older people prefer people their own age.
  • Older people often have interesting ideas.
  • I usually try to help older people.
  • Sometimes I wonder what it is like to be old.
  • Older people think they are always right.
  • Older people don't understand teenagers.

Find out more about the Walk in My Shoes Program

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