VOLUME 33, NUMBER 25 THURSDAY, April 18, 2002
ReporterElectronic Highways

Growing old gracefully online

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It's a simple fact of life—we are all aging. Eyesight and memory may not be as good as they used to be. We may feel those aches and pains, and the doctor tells us we are just "getting old." We can, however, grow old gracefully, enjoy retirement and learn to keep mind and body healthy in our golden years. These sites can help us with information on nutrition, retirement and financial planning, and caregiver support.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Aging (AoA) http://www.aoa.dhhs.gov/default.htm is a very rich resource for information on aging. It is designed to serve the elderly, caregivers, professionals in the field of aging or anyone with an interest in the large and growing aging population. For more than 30 years, the AoA has provided home and community-based services to millions of vulnerable and hard-to-reach older persons through the programs funded under the Older Americans Act. Among these services are nutrition, transportation, legal assistance and health-promotion counseling and training. Through AoA's new National Family Caregiver Support Program, the agency is focusing on the tremendous challenges of those caring for family members who are chronically ill or who have disabilities. It also includes a link to the National Aging Information Center, which provides program and policy-related materials for consumers and practitioners, as well as demographic and other statistical data on the health, economic and social conditions of older Americans.

SeniorNet http://www.seniornet.org/php/ is a nonprofit organization providing older adults access to and education about computer technology and the Internet to enhance their lives and enable them to share their knowledge and wisdom with more than 600 discussions in such areas as books, health matters and finance. The organization has more than 39,000 members and more than 220 Learning Centers throughout the U.S. It also publishes a quarterly newsletter and a variety of instructional materials.

Over its eight years of existence, ElderWeb http://www.elderweb.com/ has grown to include thousands of reviewed links to long-term care information, a searchable database of organizations and an expanding library of articles and reports, as well as news, and events. It is designed to be a research site for both professionals and family members looking for information on eldercare and long- term care, and includes links to information on legal, financial, medical and housing issues, policy, research and statistics. If you're new to this site, the best place to start is with the "Site Map," where you can get an overview of the site structure.

Modern technology and medical science keep us living longer, albeit with chronic illnesses like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and the after-effects of strokes and respiratory diseases. The result is that care giving has become the fastest-growing profession in America, and it has a profound impact on families, employers, and the national economy. For those who have aging parents, there are a few sites that give information on care giving. Children of Aging Parents (CAPS) http://www.caps4caregivers.org/ is a nonprofit, charitable organization started in 1977 whose mission it is to assist the nation's nearly 54 million caregivers of the elderly or chronically ill with reliable information, referrals and support, and to heighten public awareness that the health of the family caregivers is essential to ensure quality care of the nation's growing elderly population.

Aging Solutions Inc. http://www.eldercarehelp.com/ provides comprehensive consulting services that include trouble-shooting and problem-solving services for families with aging parents or relatives. Their services are designed specifically to meet the needs of families caring for their elder relatives, providing information, education, guidance, referrals, counseling or moral support as you contend with your aging relatives.

Check out the AoA's "Web Sites on Aging" at http://www.aoa.dhhs.gov//agingsites/defaultdefault.htm for more information on aging. They have developed sets of links in key subject areas, as well as including links to other aging metasites with links to many resources in aging.

Make the best of your golden years. Live long and prosper!

—Sue Neumeister and Lori Widzinski, University Libraries


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