FOUNDATION TRAINS HIGH RISK SENIORS TO NAVIGATE INTERNET HEALTH WEBSITES
Washington, DC, March 10, 2006:
The senior internet health resources model training program, funded by the National Library of Medicine and implemented by the SPRY Foundation and the Community Preservation and Development Corporation at Edgewood Terrace in Northeast Washington, DC, taught high risk seniors with no prior computer skills how to use the Internet to learn about health information. The trainer, Alfred Attey, focused on two government health websites, www.NIHSeniorHealth.gov and www.MedlinePlus.gov . Courses were held at Edgewood Terrace's state-of-the-art computer labs.
Seniors were recruited to participate at a kick off presentation which included visits to both NIHSeniorHealth.gov and MedlinePlus.gov. During the question and answer session at the event, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and senior sexuality were all topics of interest. Many seniors were so excited about the project that they tried to enroll in two classes that covered the same content. One of the websites featured in the class, NIHSeniorHealth.gov, developed by the National Institute of Aging and the National Library of Medicine is senior-friendly, with large-typeface, simplified layout, sound options, and exclusively senior related content.
A small number of Edgewood Terrace residents were already familiar with internet technology and volunteered to serve as peer educators during the trainings. These “senior Internet Navigators (SrNrs) attended an intensive training session before the regularly scheduled classes began. During this session, the Navigators were trained to act as first responders to the class participants. The Navigators also helped to spread the word about the trainings within the Edgewood community and successfully recruited more participants. During the sessions, Medical Librarians from the Washington Hospital Center and SPRY staff members were on hand to back up the Navigators. A graduation event was held March 9 th at Edgewood Terrace. Forty two seniors and eight Senior Internet Navigators were recognized with special certificates. The program included reflections from three participants with one student stating that she could have prevented her stroke if she had known about the websites earlier. “I would have know what was happening to my body and would have known what to look for,” said Geraldine Mccray. By graduating from the class, seniors will start closing the health information gap between seniors who use the Internet and those who do not. The Community Preservation and Development Corporation, a nonprofit, HUD-funded developer that owns low income units at Edgewood Terrace, has wired all the apartments for internet and provides computers to interested residents for just twenty-five dollars a year.
Upon completion of the project, the partners will evaluate this method of teaching computer skills to high risk seniors, as the National Library of Medicine is seeking to find effective ways t o communicate reliable health information to all Americans.