Today, Barbara lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., where she still finds time to teach in retirement. This time around, she’s teaching life lessons.

Barbara Coyne

Barbara participates in an all­-volunteer program called Elder Wisdom Circle. Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Elder Wisdom Circle provides free and confidential advice. Elders, who range in age from 60 to 105 years, offer their advice to anyone who asks, on any topic. Most who request it are between the ages of 15 and 35 years.

Barbara became involved in the program five years ago after reading about it in AARP’s magazine. She says she was attracted to it because it would allow her to use her degree in counseling. Barbara often offers her advice on relationship issues, something she can address because of her own life experiences.

“My 20/20 hindsight could help others who haven’t lived long enough to have experienced the same situations, and I don’t mind telling someone how those experiences have taught me valuable lessons,” says Barbara.

Barbara says each person who comes to Elder Wisdom is different, but many of their questions deal with relationships. “Most of the relationship situations I see being submitted seem to revolve around problems developing after young people move in together, have kids, then realize they don’t have a strong tie to each other after all. I find I quote the following rather often, ‘Sex will always obscure good judgment. Always.’ … It appears that people jump into situations without enough preliminary investigation, whether it’s financial, job-­related, personal relationships or whatever. Hurry, hurry, hurry doesn’t seem to be a good tactic.”

The program is most rewarding when she receives responses from people she has counseled, Barbara says. “They say that they tried my suggestions and that it worked for them, and that makes me feel as if I’ve really accomplished something worthwhile.”