Interview of a Successful Aging Adult

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I interviewed my neighbor, a 71-year old Caucasian male, who has the most

positive view of life in late adulthood. John spends most of his time at home, leading a

quite, routine existence. Never married, John receives visits from his two sisters every

few weeks, and some of her nieces and nephews stop by on occasion. John does not have

any children himself. When I asked him if he was happy, he said he was "quite happy".

John was born in California, Santa Clara. He still lives in Santa Clara. His native

language is English, and he also speaks a little bit of Spanish. John, who is retired, was a

professor of Sociology at West Valley College in Saratoga, California, where he was the

recipient of the College Distinguished Teacher Award. He was educated as an

undergraduate at Santa Clara University, from which he graduated with Honors, and

received a M.A in Sociology.

At 71, John rates his health as being “good" and doesn't place much stock in

doctors. "If they start poking around you," he said, "they'll only make you sick." John

does go in for a physical once in a while, but he hasn't been seriously ill since the time he

came down with appendicitis in 1960. "People ask me what I eat," he said, "I'm a

vegetarian, more or less. I never smoked. I don't drink either. That's one of my good

qualities. And I keep my bedroom window open 365 days a year." John eats healthy,

and catches a daily mass on TV, roots faithfully for the San Francisco Giants and loves

nothing more than a good night sleep. John said that he did not have any health


When I asked John what made it hard for him being his age, he answered,
"People's attitude about older people. People tend to be a little skeptical about your

ability. I don't like it when at gatherings, young people are always so courteous, and for

some reason think they have to kiss you on the cheek, but they are very anxious to go to

the next person."

When I asked John what he believed was the best stage of his life, he answered,

"This is the happiest period of my life. My house is paid for, my car is paid for, and every

time I go out and eat somewhere, I get a senior citizen's discount. I like being retired and

have all this time to do the things I want to do." John said that he is fortunate to have a

good health, and friendships that offer an element of companionship and social support.

But for the most part, he keeps to himself. He lives in a two bedroom town-house and has

a golden retriever dog name Max.

"I like living by myself. I have Max to keep me company," he answered when I

asked him how he liked his current living situation. I also asked John if it ever gets

isolating living alone? He said, "I suppose I spend a lot of time alone, but I don't feel

isolated. I have a lot of interests. I have a lot of good support. I don't feel isolated." John

said that he feels that his family and friends are supportive and are interested.

Johns accomplishments an satisfactions in life were his hobbies and career before

he retired. His hobbies were and still are: "Sports, bicycling, music, and wood work". "I

like to make wood desks and tables, then replace my old ones. I like to make my own

furniture and interior decorations." I told John how impressive and interesting that was.

His greatest accomplishment was his career as an educator. "I believe, I made a

difference," he said. "I am sure you did", I said.

John has never been married. According to a recent statistic, approximately 8

percent of all individuals who reach the age of 65 have never been married. Older adults

who have never been married seem to have the least difficulty coping with loneliness.

It was surprising for me to read this and...
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