Archive for the 'Aging in America conference' Category

Mar 19 2009

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Sue Harris presents her poster

Here’s our future Ph.D. talking with a conference attendee about her research into Self-Expansion and Lifelong Learning.
Sue Harris at the Aging in America conference

Sue Harris at the Aging in America conference

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Mar 19 2009

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Debbie Reynolds nearly collapses at closing session

Ed Cohen

March 18, 2009

The Closing General Session featured a scary moment. The guest speaker, Debbie Reynolds, nearly fainted.

The usually vivacious actress, singer and dancer trailed off while telling a story about Jimmy Stewart and stood motionless at the lectern, eyes watery. She looked as if she might collapse forward into the microphone.

Her pianist hurried across the stage to ask if she was all right and to steady her. She said weakly that she was going to have a drink of water.

I was seated directly in front of her, about three rows back from the stage, and heard people saying with increasing alarm, “Is she alright?” “She’s not alright.” I was afraid she was having a stroke.

She seemed to recover a bit and wanted to continue. Someone brought a chair on stage. It was suggested she continue the talk seated, and she complied.

“The reason there was a pause,” she explained eventually, “is I was about to faint.”
She she’d come down with pneumonia four or five weeks ago. Then, trying to make light of the episode, she added, “You think this is the last time you’re going to see me,” and after the slightest pause, “I do this every performance, it’s the whole sympathy thing.” She later clarified that this doesn’t happen at every performance.

At the time of the near-faint, she had just finished singing a bit of “Home in the Meadow (Away, Away, Come Away with Me),” which she sang in the epic movie How the West Was Won, which also starred Jimmy Stewart. She said Stewart loved the song and in his later years would always ask her to sing it.

Her talk featured a complication of clips from many of her films, including Singin’ in the Rain. She would sing a few words along with the soundtrack. Her singing seemed to be getting increasingly off key as the clips progressed, and she was especially far off during the clip from The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Her voice grew very quiet during “Home in the Meadow” just before she became motionless.

After her time in the chair, her singing improved noticeably in the few more bits of songs she performed.

The actress, who will turn 77 on April 1, said several times that she is celebrating her 60th year in show business. She said she was only 17 when she w as cast as the female lead in Singin’ in the Rain alongside 37-year-old Gene Kelly and 27-year-old Donald O’Connor.

She began her talk by joking about aging, saying she wakes up every morning and every part of her body has moved somewhere else.

“I live in Las Vegas, and my boobs live in San Diego.”

Singing along to a clip from Singin' in the Rain.

Singing along to a clip from Singin' in the Rain

Persevering to the end of her talk

Persevering to the end of her talk

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Mar 19 2009

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Boomers prefer learning things a certain way

Ed Cohen

March 18, 2009

If you want Baby Boomers to participate in your programs, you have to understand that they have a different learning style than their parents, the so-called Veterans or Greatest Generation, or their children, the GenXers and Millennials.

            That was the message at a session today from a team representing the Braille Institute. Another message: Their organization, though still focused on helping people with vision problems, does a whole lot more than teach blind people how to read Braille.

            The generational differences in learning styles are illustrated in the chart displayed here, Learning style differences by generation. Here’s what Lisa Smith, assistant regional director for the institute, added about marketing learning programs to Baby Boomers:

  •             They see this period of life as a time for personal growth. They’re looking to acquire news skills and explore new leisure-time activities.
  •             They want flexible scheduling because many are still working. That means evening and weekend offerings, even if that’s not when your staff wants to work.
  •             They prefer intensive short courses to long ones, particularly if they’re still working.
  •             They expect education via the Internet to supplement any face-to-face learning experiences.

            One more interesting fact that Smith shared: It comes from one of the institute’s new courses, formerly titled “Independent Living Skills,” now retitled, in Boomer terms, “I  Can Do It Myself.” People with low vision often have difficulty handling money in the United States. Why? According to Smith, ours is the only country in the world whose bills are all the same size and color.

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Mar 18 2009

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Characteristics of people, places most likely to be civically engaged

Ed Cohen

March 17, 2009

Contrary to what some might think, today’s older people aren’t any more likely to volunteer than younger people.

That was one of the survey findings presented at a session today by Michelle Kobayashi, vice president of the private National Research Center, Inc. Her firm conducts surveys nationwide that ask people how often they engage in certain activities. Her results showed show that, across all adult age groups, about 44 percent of people say they have volunteered recently.

There are certain personal characteristics that favor higher rates of what is broadly defined as of civic engagement. Here’s her list:

  • Longer-term resident
  • Own their home
  • Not Hispanic/Latino
  • Older (65+)
  • Living in housing with other seniors
  • More educated.

But the No. 1 factor, she said, is income. Civic engagement is higher among people with higher incomes. Lower-income people tend to lend more informal kids of assistance, such as helping their neighbors or assisting in child rearing by “grandparenting,” which is especially common among African American families.

She listed these characteristics of communities where civic engagement is highest:

  • Smaller
  • Higher median income
  • Higher proportion of white residents
  • Higher proportion of educated residents
  • Higher proportion of senior households
  • Lower median age
  • Not in the South

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Mar 18 2009

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One way to raise awareness, money on the Internet

Ed Cohen

March 17, 2009

Caring.com, a website for caregivers, says it conducted an experiment in viral marketing last year that raised $10,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Actually, as Gary Alpert, the site’s VP for business development described it at a session this afternoon, Caring.com agreed to donate $10K to Alzheimer’s Association for cooperating in the experiment.

Caring.com’s programmers developed a way for anyone with a website or blog to add a purple “Act to End Alzheimer’s” ribbon to their Web page. Participants had their choice of shades of purple and could pick from three sizes of ribbon. They could also customize the ribbon to honor or memorialize, by name, an Alzheimer’s sufferer such as a loved one.

Caring.com agreed to donate $10 for every ribbon activated. There was also a link on the activation page to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association. The ribbons themselves didn’t solicit donations. The Alzheimer’s Association helped out by marketing the campaign through its website and e-mail lists.

Alpert said the campaign reached 1,000 ribbon activations – earning the Alzheimer’s Association its $10K — in six weeks. The total is now up to 1,600 activations, he said. (The only place the campaign is being advertised now is on Caring.com’s own website.)

Alpert said enabling people to design the ribbons and to personalize them so they honored someone close to them were keys to success.

He said the campaign not only demonstrated the potential for fundraising using the Web but how viral marketing can spread the word about a cause. The ribbons ended up — and are still up — on hundreds of niche websites, many having something to do with caregiving. Combining the audience for all of those sites, he estimates that the ribbons exposed more than 100,000 individuals to the Alzheimer’s Association name and cause.

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