Teaching Older Adults

I have taught Health at Foothill College for several years. In the past, most of my students have been young adults attending the community college – who were required to take the class and not always so enthusiastic about it.  This year, I have started teaching in a new program – in the adaptive learning  community-based program. My students are mostly elderly – between 85 and 95 years old.

I have adapted the Health curriculum – from the HLTH021 class in the Biological and Health sciences department – for the older adult population. The text – (not required) is “Dare to be 100” by Walter M. Bortz II, M.D.

‘DARE’ to be 100 is also the nickname I’ve given the class. I was sharing this information with my students when one of them said to me “but dear, I am already 100”.

“You are?” I exclaimed. I was very impressed. I went over to her and shook her hand. A beautiful example of someone committed to lifelong learning. There she was, at age 100, sitting in my class trying to learn something new.

What a joy it is to work with this population. Everyone is warm and friendly, appreciative of what I bring to them – always enthusiastic (although sometimes they do fall asleep (lol)). And I feel so young 🙂

I joke that although I am using most of the curriculum from the HLTH021 class I did leave out the section on birth control. However, when it comes to health – people are people – no matter what age you are. Our basic needs are the same. We need to pay attention to our diet, get enough sleep, drink enough water and get plenty of exercise – no matter how old we are.

This blog is about teaching these classes. About working with older adults – about how to best meet their needs. It is a reflection about teaching, about aging, about self-expression and about learning – for my students, my peers, and for myself.


2 thoughts on “Teaching Older Adults

  1. Hello Sue! I have not taught to that particular age group, but I’ve taught a handful of “older” students who were more focused on self-improvement and learning (or getting a degree as an achievement). I love working with these students, because you know they genuinely want to learn and grow in a somewhat social setting. I look forward to reading more about your classes!


  2. In ESL classes, most of the students are rather young, but we also get older students. One quarter I came into the classroom the first day, and an older Ukrainian man was sitting at one of the seats surrounded by some young Chinese students. They were curious why he was in the class. By their questions it seemed they were asking him why he would bother to learn English (but left unsaid – when he didn’t have all that many years left). He told them that since America was now his home, and English was the language used here, he wanted to learn the language as well as he could. The students smiled and nodded at each other as if their questions had been answered. From that day on, this older student had no problems with all the other younger students. He is still on campus taking classes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s