Senior Citizens Can Learn Quite Well, Thank You

Understanding principles of older adult learning in order to increase effective communication of new health information and decision making

From May to December 1999, the Setting Priorities for Retirement Years Foundation (SPRY) studied the current state of research into how older adults learn and make decisions, particularly with regard to health and health care.

SPRY is the research and education arm of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, an advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Project staff reviewed more than 300 publications and interviewed 128 experts.

To date, researchers with expertise in education or communications technologies have done little work in the aging field, and as a result, teaching methods now used for the elderly are often extrapolated from adolescent or vocational education.

Key Findings

  • Older adults learn and make decisions differently from children and adolescents.
  • A better understanding of the principles of older adult learning can be achieved by bridging the fields of medical and cognitive science, adult learning and communications technologies.
  • Cutting edge communications technologies can be used to accelerate ways in which older adults learn and use health information.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project with partial funding of $96,980 from May 1999 to December 1999.