I don’t plan to mince words with you as I begin my first blog for the ACA. Time is just too short, even if you’re young. Speaking of which, if you are around age 25, grab a camera right now and take a shot of yourself. Don’t worry how you look. Forget the makeup or what you’re wearing. Truth is, you are not really going to age much beyond today for the rest of your life, at least in your mind’s eye that is.
Don’t believe me? Stop the next older person you see, or ask an aging relative this question: ‘How old do you think of yourself as you go through the day?’ You’re likely to hear as I did today from a 75 year-old at the gym, “Oh, I still see myself as 25. It’s only when other people treat me like I’m old that I realize I’m not a kid anymore.’
Right now over half the US population are folks over fifty. This year 80 million of them will retire. What do those numbers mean for you as a counselor? Plenty. Those Baby Boomers are likely to be your Bread and Butter. How so? They are facing an increasingly technological world which their education did not prepare them for. Many are or will be caring for elderly parents and they don’t know where to turn. Not only that, they are at a stage in life where they not only welcome counseling, they can afford it!
So why are so few counselors going into Gerontology? (Ugly word. I prefer, “Wrinklies.”) How come out of the hundreds of educational sessions offered at last month’s national convention only a handful even dealt with people over 50? Because nobody is talking about them. They’re not even talking about themselves.
I plan to change that. Stick with me the next 12 weeks and you may just have found a career that will change your life and theirs for the better. There’s no greater feeling than being the first one to catch that wave. While the others are paddling out to get to it, you’ll be riding it to shore. Now go take that picture!
Helen Hudson is a counselor and 20 year member of the ACA. She is also the author of "Kissing Tomatoes," and speaks around the country on the importance of caring for the elderly, particularly those with Alzheimer's, with compassion.