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The relationships and communities that sustain the last decades of our lives

An illustration of a scrapbook featuring four photos of an older white man, who is bald, has a beard and wears glasses. In the photos clockwise from upper right photo: an older white woman hugs the man from behind; the man in front of a big house and trees talking with a Black man; the man with a young girl blowing out candles on a chocolate birthday cake that says ‘95’; the man sitting at a picnic table playing bridge with two other old white men.
Charnel Hunter

For older Americans, social isolation is a public health crisis. As we age, our relationships evolve and our communities change — how do we accept these changes and tackle their challenges?

For older adults, social isolation is a very real threat that can bring about a whole slew ofmental and physical challenges — from premature death to an increased risk of dementia. While many Americans build new friendships in their independent or assisted living communities, others work to craft connections as they age in place.

Host Anita Rao meets one family in the middle of a move to assisted living and dives into all things relationship-relevant that are a part of this transition. Charles Owens is a 94-year-old man who currently lives in the assisted living section of Croasdaile Village in Durham, North Carolina. Charles’ adult children, Eddie Owens and Rosa Rouse, also join Anita for the conversation. Together, they explore the shift from husband to caretaker, the grief of losing a partner, the changing parent-child dynamics that are a part of aging, and the challenges and joys of finding friendships in a new community.

Madeline Franklin, executive director of STL Village in St. Louis, also joins the conversation to talk about the innovative “Village” model that helps seniors build community while aging in place. Villages are neighborhood membership organizations that offer support and community engagement opportunities for adults wanting to stay independent.

Special thanks to Sarah Thompson, Robert Weinberger, Louise Vogel, Edith Kaplan and members of the Avenidas Village in Palo Alto for contributing to this week’s show.

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Gabriela Glueck is a producer for Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, health and relationships.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.
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