San Diego Staffers Experience Trading Ages

Date Posted: 02/25/2015

(LONG BEACH, Calif.) – More than a dozen representatives of local, state and federally elected officials have gathered in San Diego for a unique educational workshop on the issues facing seniors and to personally experience many of the physical and emotional challenges that come with aging. The activity was part of “Trading Ages,” a senior-sensitivity training program developed and conducted by SCAN Health Plan. The event was co-sponsored by SCAN along with locally based Scripps Health and Serving Seniors, a San Diego nonprofit dedicated to helping seniors in poverty live healthy and fulfilling lives.

“Between 1990 and 2020 California’s older population is expected to more than double and that trend will require our elected leaders and creators of public policy to more fully understand the unique needs of older adults,” said Peter Begans, SCAN’s senior vice president of public, government and community affairs. “The Trading Ages program is an eye-opening experience based on SCAN’s 38 years of working exclusively with the unique needs and challenges faced by seniors.”

Trading Ages is an interactive workshop that allows participants to experience firsthand a series of age‐related conditions such as hearing loss, vision changes and loss of dexterity. The training also utilizes tools to accelerate aging and help participants understand how seniors struggle with everyday activities as well as the challenges they face as they maneuver through the healthcare system.

“The experience was truly enlightening,” said Paul Downey, President/CEO of Serving Seniors who participated in the workshop. “I have been working with seniors for 20 years and thought I understood aging well, but the workshop gave me a whole new perspective on the challenges many older adults will live with the rest of their lives.”

To simulate experiencing the difficulties of living with arthritis, for example, program participants were asked to don thick, heavy gloves and then try to open medication bottles and handle small pills. Others strapped their arm to their side to see how limiting it can be to deal with the effects of a stroke.

Depriving participants of the level of hearing and sight that most people enjoy their entire lives was also a critical part of the program. Ear plugs were used followed by a hearing test to demonstrate how isolating hearing loss can be. Participants were also asked to wear special glasses that severely limited their vision and approximated many of the vision challenges and disorders that accompany aging.

“Increasing appreciation and sensitivity to aging is a natural part of the relationship between Scripps Health and SCAN,” said Marc Reynolds, corporate senior vice president - payer relations at Scripps Health. “Because of the Trading Ages program, many elected officials will be better able to affect public policy and public infrastructure decisions that consider the aging – the fastest-growing segment of our population. Scripps Health welcomes the opportunity to offer our part in supporting this worthy endeavor by SCAN.”

SCAN has been offering aging-sensitivity training to its employees and board members for many years as a way to better understand the needs and mindset of its health plan members. The program is also offered at no charge to physician groups, community organizations and businesses to enhance their sensitivity in dealing with older adults and is one part of SCAN’s broader community outreach that includes volunteer programs, health education and screenings, event sponsorship and corporate giving. SCAN Health Plan, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans, currently serves close to 170,000 members in California. For more information on SCAN, visit or

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