Experiential learning activities ranging from intergenerational service-learning to age-simulations and role-playing have also been shown to reduce ageist attitudes and increase empathy for the experiences of older adults. Devising or locating activities that are relevant, appealing, and appropriate can be a challenge for new faculty and veteran educators alike. Moreover, the inherently interdisciplinary nature of aging studies requires instructors to access expertise in a broad range of disciplines and content areas. This book A Hands-on Approach to Teaching About Aging should prove useful for anyone incorporating aging content into his or her courses, regardless of experience teaching aging-related material. The peer-reviewed activities in this book provide instructors from disciplines including but not limited to counseling, family studies, gerontology, geriatrics, medicine, psychology, public administration, public health, nursing, social work, sociology, and speech pathology with teaching strategies to readily engage students in the exploration of aging and older adults.
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Demography studies include examining how many people are in a given geographic location; population growth or decline resulting from trends in fertility, mortality, and migration; where people are located and why; and characteristics of the population. The two activities in this chapter offer students opportunities to apply demography and demographic ideas to our aging world and their own hometowns. In Activity 1: Applying the Demography of Aging to Countries Around the World, students can learn how countries have changed over time and can become more savvy about the information they are exposed to regarding trends in populations. In contrast, Activity 2 Hometown Age Demographics moves the focus to the student's local area, making the information more personal and contextualizing the data in a different manner. The activity seeks to challenge students to examine their own communities to discern whether their hometowns are experiencing population aging or not.
This chapter briefly discusses health care and health care education exercises that provide students the opportunity to engage with various aspects of the health care system and for future health care professionals to engage with elders to minimize potential ageist attitudes. The health care education exercises are: (1) An Evidence-Based Team Approach: Benefits of a Gerontological Interdisciplinary Team, (2) Bingocize®: An Intergenerational Service- Learning Initiative to Improve Older Adults' Functional Fitness While Engaging Undergraduate Students and the Community, (3) Medical Students Community Engagement, and (4) What Would You Do? Getting Resources for Your Older Adult. Activity 1 helps to encourage nursing students and other future health care workers to interact with other disciplines in order to provide the best possible care for older adults and their families. Activity 2 encourages students to interact with older adults through exercise programs.
It is vital that those who will interact with older adults in professional and health settings be well prepared to understand the variability of people's aging experiences. In teaching about physical aging, therefore, it is important to balance providing students with an understanding and empathy for the physical challenges some older adults might face with the important caveat that not all older adults are in poor health, nor do the stereotypical notions of physical aging happen to all, or even most, older adults. This chapter briefly discusses the housing education activities that offer the opportunity to provide such balance to students. The housing education activities are (1) How it Feels to be Old, (2) Hands on Experience with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), (3) Hearing Aids and Pizza, and (4) Thinking Critically about Autonomy and Dependency in Aging.
Public policy is an essential component to quality of life for older adults and provides funding and guidelines for the agencies and staff that provide services. This chapter provides activities that help students to develop a better understanding of public policy and aging. Activity 1, Examining Organizations that Benefit Older Adults in the Local Community (Rodriguez), provides a venue for students, community, and educators to "explore the local network of organizations that exist for older adults". In Activity 2, Letter to A Legislator: Civic Engagement for Gerontology Students (Temple), students have the opportunity to "write a persuasive letter to a legislator to support or oppose a proposed aging related social policy". Activity 3, What Will Your Future Look Like? Financing Retirement Exercise (Baker & Brown) provides a means for students to understand how "events in the economy, political spheres, and personal health status can influence their retirement income".