Aging Awareness Fair offered CSUF students the chance to learn from their elders

In Campus News, News
(Gabe Gandara / Daily Titan)

A flash mob formed in the CSUF central Quad on Tuesday when a crowd of senior citizens danced in unison to Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk,” receiving massive applause from the surrounding crowd.

This all took place at the Aging Awareness Fair hosted by the Cal State Fullerton Gerontology Program, which offered games and activities to introduce students to the field of gerontology, as well as spread information about aging and debunk common stereotypes.

There were 12 different stations, including hopscotch and an obstacle course to promote the benefits of physical fitness, said Melanie Horn Mallers, Ph.D., assistant coordinator for the Gerontology Program.

Students also had the opportunity to sit down with senior citizens from CSUF’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to talk about their experiences with aging.

The centerpiece of the fair was a giant wall labeled “Before I die,” where participants filled in bucket list goals that ranged from skydiving to traveling to outer space.

Melissa Nieroski, a 21-year-old marketing major, participated in a challenge where people would move from one cone to another if they met certain criteria, like exercising daily and abstaining from smoking. The objective of the challenge was to reach the last cone, which would signify the participant was making healthy life choices.

“It kind of felt like a checklist of what you should be doing to stay healthy and not experience any bad health problems,” Nieroski said.

Another table offered a conversation game to encourage discussion about what people would want if they were ever to become incapacitated.

The booth aimed to be a starting point for participants to begin thinking about their care preferences and learn what their loved ones would want if they were ever in a situation where they would be unable to communicate, said Diana Tisnado, associate professor in the health science department.

Laura Zettel-Watson, program coordinator for the Gerontology Program, emphasized how gerontological studies have become increasingly important in recent years with lower birth rates and higher life expectancies leading to an older national and global population.

“We really want to be able to infuse gerontological education or understanding into virtually every major on campus,” Zettel-Watson said. “Having an understanding of how the population ages is just going to help anybody understand how to do their job better.”

Zettel-Watson was pleased with the turnout, and said they received as many people in the first hour as they expected for the entire duration of the event.

After the flash mob concluded, dancer and osher institute member Jim Medici gave praise the program for giving older adults an opportunity to further their education and support the university.

“My wife died about three and a half years ago and I was a hermit, but coming here I’ve met a ton of new friends,” Medici said. “It’s continuing education for all of us that wanted to do things in our past but were too busy.”

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