By Rebecca Brown
William completed the Boston Marathon at the age of 67. Now, in his late-80s, he continues to enjoy hiking, skiing and running. Mildred, 73, hits the step machine after complete knee replacement surgery and daily increases her walking distance. These are just two of the inspirational stories on the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) NIHSeniorHealth website (http://nihseniorhealth.gov).
People aged 65 and up numbered 37.3 million in 2006 (12.4% of the population) and are expected to represent 20% of the United States population by 2030.(1) In Kansas, approximately one third of the population is 50 years or older.(2) Fifty-three percent of next-generation seniors (50-64) and twenty-one percent of seniors 65 and up have gone online to search for health information.(3) With the growth of our aging population, it’s imperative to have accurate, authoritative online resources to make informed health care decisions. Below is a selection of resources that focus on the unique needs of seniors and caregivers.
NIHSeniorHealth was developed by staff from the NLM and the National Institute on Aging to provide seniors and caregivers with reliable aging-related health information. The site debuted in 2002 with three health topics, and now includes 43 health topics, health videos, Medicare basics for caregivers, a trainer’s toolkit to help older adults learn to search online health information, and links to tips on making websites senior friendly. The site has many senior-friendly features allowing users to easily increase the text size, change the page color for higher contrast, or activate the “talking” function that reads text aloud.
The National Institute on Aging (http://www.nia.nih.gov) provides information on healthy aging, caregiving, dietary supplements, and diseases in both English and Spanish. It also provides links to other National Institutes of Health and other government websites. This Institute conducts scientific research to understand the nature of aging and extending one’s healthy active years. In addition to health information, the site has a searchable database of over 300 national organizations that provide help to older adults.
The U. S. Administration on Aging (http://aoa.gov) provides links to connect older persons, caregivers and professionals to federal, national and local programs – including the Eldercare Locator to find help with transportation, meals, home care, and caregiver support services. You can link to the Locator directly at http://www.eldercare.gov.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a section just for seniors at www.USA.gov/Topics/Seniors.shtml. Topics include health issues – such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes – drug information, medication errors, health fraud,and nutrition.
Nursing Home Compare (www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/home.asp) is a tool containing detailed information about past performance of every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country. Sites receive ratings on health inspections, nursing home staffing, residents quality measures (health, physical functioning, mental status, general well being), and fire safety inspections.
For more information, or to schedule a presentation:
Rebecca Brown, MLS
Kansas Outreach & Technology Liaison
National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region
University of Kansas Medical Center
A.R. Dykes Library of Health Sciences
2100 W. 39th Avenue
 “Aging Statistics.” U.S. Administration on Aging. Accessed January 6, 2009 <http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/Aging_Statistics/index.aspx>.
 “Aging Statistics.” U.S. Administration on Aging. Accessed January 6, 2009 http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/Aging_Statistics/index.aspx.
 “e-Health and the Elderly: How Seniors Use the Internet for Health – 2005 Survey Results.” Kaiser Family Foundation. Accessed January 6, 2009 http://www.kff.org/entmedia/entmedia011205pkg.cfm.