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A Note from the General Manager about Excursions

Podcast's Call-In Show Will Deal With Triumphs, Challenges Of Getting Older

NOEL KING, HOST:

WNYC's podcast "Death, Sex & Money" has been collecting stories from people over the age of 60 about what aging is like.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "DEATH, SEX AND MONEY")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: My husband's been dead for 13 years. I call it weirdohood - not widowhood, weirdohood - because it is so freaking weird.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "DEATH, SEX AND MONEY")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I'm a little carefuler (ph) than I used to be about where I put my feet because falling is a fear.

KING: Anna Sale, who hosts "Death, Sex & Money," collaborated with Colorado Public Radio host Jo Ann Allen on this one. Tonight, they and their stations co-host a live national call-in show. Jo Ann also hosts a podcast called "Been There Done That." She's over 60 herself and says she was a natural fit for this collaboration.

JO ANN ALLEN, BYLINE: A lightbulb went off in someone's head there at are "Death, Sex & Money." Oh, Anna doesn't know anything about aging...

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: ...So why don't we call on someone who does? And I got a call. And of course, why wouldn't I want to work with Anna Sale?

KING: Anna, the great thing about your podcast is that you talk about anything and everything under the sun in a really honest way. What got you interested in talking about aging?

ANNA SALE, BYLINE: Well, you know, some of my favorite interviews that I've done on the show ever have been with older people. But we had been thinking as a team that there's a certain quality to the episodes that I host when we have older guests, which is, you know, I'm a younger person kind of coming at them with questions where I'm seeking to sort of harvest wisdom from them. I'm not coming to them as a peer. And it just struck us that we really wanted to spend some time looking closely and listening in on conversations between older people and what was going on in their emotional lives.

KING: And, Jo Ann, you would count as a peer for the folks over 60. Can I ask how old you are?

ALLEN: I am 67 years old and loving every minute of it.

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: I don't want to be a second younger. Even before we started this interview, I was younger than I am now. I'm glad to keep moving forward.

KING: What's so great about getting older?

ALLEN: Well, I love the fact that I have a lot of experience under my belt. I think that I know myself better. I have the feeling and I've actually experienced being able to handle situations in a different way because I may have been there before. I guess I just love knowing myself better.

KING: I want to ask about a couple of people that you featured in this episode. We're only going to use their first names because that is your podcast's practice. I am finding it hard to forget Stanley. Tell me about Stanley.

ALLEN: He is someone who lives alone. But he's part of a quarantine pod, if you will, of folks who are younger than him. And he sometimes felt out of place with this younger set. And I think it was in part because he didn't see them as equals. He was always aware that they were younger than him and, in some case, as much as 30 years younger. But as he continued to be in the pod and talk with people, he also developed kind of a pride. I specifically asked him, do you ever feel proud that you are the oldest person in the room? And he said, yes. He was proud of that. And that's what I think older people need to feel.

KING: Stanley also has a particular worry.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "DEATH, SEX AND MONEY")

STANLEY: You know, my biggest concern or fear around, you know, dying, I guess, is that it will happen and everybody will come and, you know, clean out my house and go, oh, my God, you know, this guy's living in a hoarder house.

KING: I wonder what your reaction to Stanley and this fear was, this anxiety was.

SALE: Like, you know, when Stanley was asked about his greatest fear, he talked about, basically, the loss of privacy that would come after he died, that things about how he kept his home would be exposed. And he felt self-conscious about that and that it somehow would make people think differently about him by seeing how he kept his home with all of his treasures.

ALLEN: Yeah. That struck me when he said it. And that made me investigate in myself, how would I feel if someone had to clean out my apartment and found certain things that I right now or I had been thinking was stuff I didn't want them to find?

KING: You spoke to a woman named Sandra, who is dealing with one of the inescapable parts of aging. Her sister has recently died.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "DEATH, SEX AND MONEY")

SANDRA: The medical examiner himself said - he gave me two hazmat suits. He says, sooner or later, I guess you'll have to go in after, you know, you take care of her remains. He said, but it's really a mess. So you have to - you should wear these hazmat suits before you go in. And you shouldn't go in alone.

SALE: The thing that the Sandra tape made me think about, and hearing the conversations about death that Jo Ann had with some of our older listeners, it made me really think about the ways that our communities are organized and the ways that outside of immediate family, there's a real lack of support for people who are older in our country in many places. And I - just hearing Sandra, a woman in her 70s, be told, you know, here's a stack of hazmat suits, you know, for when you go in, take a friend - I wished for a world in which we knew for sure who was going to go with Sandra.

KING: Why is it important to talk about aging?

ALLEN: I think when we examine aging, it gives us the opportunity to understand life to the fullest, meaning you don't stop living once you hit 60, 65 or 70. You don't have to stay in the rat race. You can relax a little bit more and be yourself. And that's OK. You do not have to be young to enjoy life.

KING: Jo Ann Allen and Anna Sale talking to us about their "Death, Sex & Money" podcast about aging. Thank you both so much for taking the time. This was wonderful.

SALE: Thank you.

ALLEN: I enjoyed it tremendously, Noel.

(SOUNDBITE OF AHMAD JAMAL'S "AUTUMN RAIN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.