Age (not old) advice: Emory students and Atlanta seniors

By Rhonda Mullen | Emory Health | Dec. 20, 2012

A mentoring program at Emory pairs seniors in the community with medical and nursing students to share lessons in aging.

She's 69. He's 24.

She's conservative. He's liberal.

She's from Tennessee. He's from California.

But when it comes down to it, Charlotte Slovis-Cooper and Jacob Khoubian share more in common than not. "Sometimes I'm an old soul but young at heart," Khoubian says. "She's like that too."

Khoubian met Cooper last year at the beginning of his first year as a medical student at Emory. She was his mentor in a pilot program that paired medical and nursing students with older adults to allow both to benefit.

The program gave students a chance to practice communication skills that are vital to good clinicians and to develop professionalism early in their training. Within their first weeks of school, they were getting to know their assigned mentors and already discussing sensitive health and personal information.

For seniors like Cooper, the program gave them a chance to share decades of valuable wisdom and to dispel stereotypes about aging. "Sometimes people look at you and all they see is gray hair," says Cooper. "Then they put you into a whole different category. But this program lets the students see how active we are in body and mind. It gives them a different perspective of the word 'old.'"

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