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Older Adults and Online Health Information – A Resource for Trainers

Older Adults and Health Information

Do you provide consumer health services and resources in your library? Specifically, are you providing health information to seniors? Many older adults are interested in finding health information on their own, but they may lack the necessary computer or Internet searching skills. If you have ever wanted to provide training to this user group, read on for some exciting news!

The National Institutes on Aging has published an excellent training toolkit that is available as a free download for trainers. Helping Older Adults Search for Health Information Online: A Toolkit for Trainers features easy-to-use training materials to help older adults find reliable, up-to-date online health information on their own. The training features NIHSeniorHealth.gov and MedlinePlus.gov, quality health websites from the NIH. The training materials are intended for both beginning students and those with intermediate knowledge of computers and the Internet.

Toolkit for Trainers

Trainer-friendly, Senior-friendly

The toolkit materials are designed to be trainer-friendly. Each module follows the same format, describing in detail everything the trainer needs to know to deliver a successful training session. Trainers will find consistent layouts for each lesson plan, including preparation steps, scripting, time checks, helpful teaching, navigation and explanation tips. If you are considering any type of training for seniors about using computers and the Internet for health information, the Toolkit for Trainers is a must!

Additionally, the developers of the toolkit recognized that older adults and seniors have unique learning needs. If a senior is not an experienced computer user, it does little good to refer him or her to a health website. Older adults appreciate a slower-paced class, starting with the most basic of information and hands-on practice. The lesson plans in the toolkit are designed with this in mind. The modules range from the most basic of steps to advanced techniques. The toolkit is broken into 9 modules, each designed to last between 2 and 2 ½ hours. Trainers can decide if they want to teach all of the modules in order, or perhaps skip one or more of the introductory lessons depending on the experience level of their students.

The Training Modules

Here is a listing of the modules and what they cover:

For beginning students with little computer experience:

Module 1: Internet Basics

For beginning students with some Internet experience and/or completion of Module 1:

Module 2: Introduction to NIHSeniorHealth

Module 3: NIHSeniorHealth Quizzes and Videos

Module 4: NIHSeniorHealth FAQs and Site Index

For beginning and intermediate students:

Module 5: NIHSeniorHealth and Exercise for Older Adults

For intermediate students:

Module 6: Introduction to MedlinePlus

Module 7: MedlinePlus: Drugs and Supplements, Medical Encyclopedia

Module 8: MedlinePlus: News and Directories

For all students:

Module 9: Evaluating Health Websites Glossary of Computer and Internet Terms for Older Adults

The modules were updated in July of 2008 to keep up with recent changes in NIHSeniorHealth.gov and MedlinePlus.gov.

Examples

Trainers will appreciate the step-by-step lesson plans and helpful aids.

Toolkit for Trainers

Students will appreciate the illustrated, easy-to-follow course materials and handouts.

Toolkit for Trainers

Consider Applying for Funding

If you provide services to an older population, perhaps you’ve been thinking of ways to help your senior population develop skills for finding, evaluating and using health information. The idea of creating a series of training sessions can be daunting. With the Toolkit for Trainers, the hard part is already done! Also, funding such a project might be a concern or barrier. Every year, NN/LM PSR encourages applications for Express Outreach Awards for special projects. If you would like more information about Express Outreach Awards and other funding opportunities for your project idea, please visit the Funding section of our website at nnlm.gov/psr/funding/.

Access to the Free Training Materials

For more information about the Toolkit for Trainers or to download materials, please visit http://nihseniorhealth.gov/toolkit/toolkit.html. The Toolkit fills a two-inch binder when printed, and it is helpful to place tabbed dividers between the modules. Remember to visit the site periodically to check for updates, especially if major changes occur to NIHSeniorHealth.gov or MedlinePlus.gov.

Please contact Kelli Ham if you have questions or comments about the toolkit, or if you have a special population group you are interested in reaching with health-related training sessions.

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