Public Service Announcements as Teaching Tools for the Older Adult Population

By Rowena W. Elliott

  • EuroMed Info (2018). Teaching older adults. When health care professionals prepare to teach older adults, it is important to know that older adults don’t lose their ability to learn. However, the educator should always consider the normal physiologic changes, the presence of any acute and/or chronic medical conditions, current cognitive status, and the learning environment where the teaching will occur. Attention should also be given to any functional limitations that could interfere with their learning abilities. Some suggested teaching strategies that could address these issues include presenting information at a slower rate, speaking in a lower tone, reducing distractions, providing more concrete versus abstract concepts, and making sure the older adult has assistive devices in place (e.g., hearing aids, eye glasses, walkers, canes, etc.). The authors stated that group teaching is also effective for some older adults because it can promote shared learning in a social atmosphere.
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services (2018). Health literacy and older adults. Health literacy is a concept that has gained a great deal of attention in the past years. While some believe that it is an understanding of what is taught, it is far more than that. Health literacy is an understanding of what was taught and using that understanding to improve health. The lack of adequate health literacy is a growing issue in the United States and is even greater in the growing older adult population. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that only 3% of the older adults that were interviewed had a measurement of “proficient” regarding their level of literacy. With an increase in the older adult population, chronic medical conditions, and subsequent need to address low literacy, health care professionals are faced with a challenge to address this issue. This is a challenge because low health literacy is not addressed by merely providing written materials about a medical condition. It involves understanding that proficient literacy involves addressing communication skills of health care professionals, situations that older adults encounter in the health care system, ability to find a provider, ability to access the needed healthcare resources, reading a prescription, and understanding the disease process.
  • Anderson, G.L., Heller, M., Pulido, E., Williams, P., Orduna, A., Bromley, E., & Booker-Vaughns, J. (2018). Growing a community-academic partnership: Lessons learned in forming a qualitative interview team for the Community Partners in Care study, Ethnicity & Disease, 28, 365-370. Entities that provide grant funding/approve projects are requiring an interdisciplinary approach establishing community partnerships. The authors described the development of a community and academic partnership to investigate strategies to address depression. The focus was not solely on developing this partnership over a specific time but with a long-term goal in mind. Using the principles from the Community-based participatory research model (CPPR), suggestions were given on preparing and implementing an academic and community partnership with a goal to improve mental health. There were four phases which included, building the team, refining instruments and training, addressing interviewing challenges, and learning from the process. Building the process involved formal training for the academic researchers and realizing that the community may have a mistrust towards academicians. Refining instruments and training included developing tools and interview questions that were culturally sensitive. Addressing the challenges helped the interviewers to understand that they may not obtain the information they were seeking in the way they expected. Lastly, learning from the process revealed that bi-directional learning will occur between academia and the community participants.
  •  Navarro, A. M., Voetsch, K. P., Liburd, L. C., Giles, W., & Collins, J. L. (2007). Charting the future of community health promotion: Recommendations from national expert panel on community health promotion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a long history of establishing community-based health promotion and disease prevention providing with positive outcomes (decreased chronic disease morbidity and mortality). The CDC also recognized that their efforts have been more from an individual perspective and not the community as a unit. To address this, the National Expert Panel on Community Health Promotion was developed with professionals who had public health and community expertise. The recommendations from the panel included (a) going beyond tracking individual risk factors and including community health indicators and social determinants, (b) promoting community-based participatory research, (c) providing support for training and capacity building, (d) promoting state-of-the-art mechanisms to share expertise and knowledge, and (e) providing funding tailored to the realities of community health.
  • Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2018). Educational and community-based programs. One of the goals of Healthy People 2020 is to increase the quality, availability, and effectiveness of educational and community-based programs designed to prevent disease and injury, improve health, and enhance quality of life. It has been found that educational and community-based programs have a greater chance of being successful if they address influences and variables at all levels in a community setting. These settings include schools, worksites, health care facilities, and places where the community will gather. It provides opportunities to reach people where they are in lieu of developing new infrastructure. Utilizing nontraditional resources helps encourage informal information sharing through peer interaction. It also provides an evidence base for establishing community health and education policy subsequently determining the true impact and effectiveness.
Keywords: Teaching Older Adults & Teaching in the Community