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Become an Agemaster

The United States is on the brink of a longevity revolution. By 2030, the proportion of the U.S. population aged 65 and older will double, comprising one in every five Americans. That's true in Oregon as well. Unfortunately for many, growing older is something to be feared or denied. But it doesn't have to be that way, says 78-year-old James Scannell of Medford.

Scannell, a current master gardener and retired biochemist, believes that a key to aging healthy and well is to keep learning new things. He gives a big thumbs up to a new program, developed by Oregon State University (OSU) in cooperation with AARP Oregon, to help address many of these fears or concerns. Scannell was one of the first Oregonians who volunteered to evaluate this “Mastery of Aging Well’” program during field testing.

“There is a lot of advice that one gets on healthy aging, but it’s in bits and pieces. This brings everything together in one concise, complete and integrated system,” Scannell said. “It offers practical things you can do in your daily life and is a great place to get a clear idea of what you need to know as you age.”

The program is geared toward adults 50+ to be accessible, personalized and research-based, according to Sharon Johnson, the OSU professor who spearheaded its development.

She explains that it gives users three distinct options:

  • access high-quality, easy-to-follow information online in modules at no cost;
  • enroll in a faculty-interactive online course; and
  • purchase a total DVD-based learning package.

All materials are available in both English and Spanish.

The programs' first option—a free online course that covers many of the key issues that help people age healthy and well—is now live.
 
These key issues are:

  • “Age-Related Memory Difficulties.” The one issue people worry about most as they grow older.
  • “Depression in Later Life.” As many as one-third of older adults may have depression in some form. It’s very treatable, but early intervention is key.
  • “Medication Jeopardy” contains loads of helpful hints to reduce the likelihood of negative drug interactions and side effects—plus information on lifestyle changes that may mean people can take fewer meds.
  • “Food as Medicine” is full of insights into how food affects people as they age and data on which colorful, nutrient-dense foods enhance optimal aging.
  • “Physical Activity & Exercise in Later Life” shares detailed information on movement and its positive effects on healthy aging.

"This series provides an easy, credible tool that can help older adults and the generations who follow navigate the second half of life and to age as well and as healthy as possible—we urge those 50+ to check it out," said Joyce DeMonnin, AARP Oregon's Director of Public Outreach.

Professor Johnson is the primary instructor for the program, though many OSU faculty and staff are involved, as well as experts outside the University including gerontologists, geriatricians, dieticians, memory experts, pharmacists and others. It is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.

For more information, call 800-667-1465 toll-free or e-mail ecampus@oregonstate.edu.

Other Resources

AARP Brain Health—Test your Noggin and Enhance your Memory Skills

AARP Health & Healthy Aging—Main Information Portal

AARP Free Health and Healthy Aging Publications Order Form

Centers for Disease Control—Healthy Aging for Older Adults

Oregon Department of Human Services Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention—Healthy Aging in Oregon Counties

Oregon State University Center for Healthy Aging Research

KOBI TV—Interview with Sharon Johnson about the Mastery of Aging program

Medford Mail Tribune—“Age Masters; Web-based program offers training in Mastery of Aging Well”

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