Tag Archive 'Aging in America conference'

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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Mar 17 2009

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Easier Web surfing for people with reduced vision

Ed Cohen

March 16, 2009

If you know someone whose vision problems make it difficult to surf the Internet, consider downloading the experimental LowBrowse plug-in for Mozilla’s free Firefox Internet browser. (First you have to download and install Firefox, of course.)

The software was developed by Lighthouse International, an organization dedicated to fighting vision loss. Lighthouse’s senior vice president for policy and evaluation, Cynthia Stuen, presented at the conference. She’s also chair of the board of the American Society on Aging.

Here are some facts from her talk on vision and health literacy:

  • Each decade past age 30 we need about 20 percent more light to see well because of yellowing of the eye lens and other forms of eye deterioration.
  • In a 1995 survey, 17 percent of people 64-75 said they had visual impairment that their corrective lenses didn’t solve. The figure was 25 percent for people 75 and older. Some of that may be due to there being people who need stronger prescriptions but either can’t afford them or refuse to get them, she said. She estimated that about 12-13% of seniors have uncorrectable vision problems because of conditions like macular degeneration.
  • Nearly half of diabetes patients have retinopathy, damage to the retina caused by a problem of blood flow to the eye. This is a growing concern because diabetes is becoming more and more prevalent, she said.
  • Here’s a simple visual assist device: Use black or dark-colored measuring cups instead of white because most of what we measure when cooking (flour, sugar) is white, and the contrast between  light and dark makes the measuring lines much easier to read.

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Mar 17 2009

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Is that really Louis Gossett, Jr.?

Louis Gossett, Jr. -- larger than I remember.

Louis Gossett, Jr. -- larger than in his military-role days.

Ed Cohen

March 16, 2009

There were some odd moments at the Opening General Session, which was itself an odd title for the event considering it came almost two full days after the start of the conference.

First came performances by a couple of high school a capella groups – locals, I guess. They weren’t introduced until much later (Vocal Radiance and Vocal Oasis). One of their numbers was an uncomfortably sultry rendition of “You Give Me Fever.”

After that came a long list of thank-yous to sponsors and to the event organizers, and then the announcement of awards already announced at earlier events. The heads of both sponsoring organizations went through these. I couldn’t help but wonder why we need an American Society on Aging and a National Conference on Aging. I’m just saying.

The headliner for the event was actor Louis Gossett Jr. At least I think it was Louis Gossett. He was introduced as such. The exact words of the introduction were, and I’m not making this up: “Please welcome me in joining Louis Gossett, Jr.”

The dark-skinned bald man who emerged from the curtains was wearing a billowy African shirt and hardly looked like the lean, muscular drill sergeant in An Officer and a Gentleman or even his publicity photo in the conference program.

This warmer, rounder Lou Gossett told us he had shaken the hand of every president going back to FDR. He reminisced about growing up in Brooklyn with Neil Sedaka and Neil Diamond and Neil Simon. (There may have been other Neils, I lost count.)

At one point he bemoaned that fact that young people today think that after you pass 35 you don’t matter anymore. This is wrongheaded because, as Mr. Gossett put it, “I’ve got shoelaces older than 35 years old and they’re still strong.”

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