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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Topics that matter to older adults

On Oct. 17, 2022, 25 Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members and five Gerontology PhD students from UMass Boston participated in an OLLI Talk entitled “Exploring Topics that Matter Most as You Age.” 
The goal of this program was to provide researchers and students studying aging an opportunity to learn what research topics older adults would like addressed.  
UMass Boston PhD student in Gerontology Taylor Gray hosted the talk. Participants were divided into five groups and the following two questions were posed to each group:
1. What do you need to achieve the quality of life you want as you age?  
2. What challenges stand in the way of achieving the quality of life you want as you age?  
The following responses are some of the most frequently mentioned themes amongst the participants: 
Social Connections: Social connections of all kinds were paramount to people as they age. Participants felt the groups they belong to, such as OLLI, are wonderful sources of social connections. Attendees felt that social connections contribute to having a sense of purpose and belonging.
Accessibility: Accessibility challenges include obstacles in the physical environment such as steep staircases and door thresholds, as well as technological obstacles like websites that are difficult to navigate. Lack of accessibility bars older people from activities they enjoy or tasks they need to complete because the environment is not usable for them.
Health and Health Care: Attendees reported that doctors need to be clearer in communication. Navigating Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance systems is extremely difficult and frustrating. Participants felt that nutritious and enjoyable foods that older adults could easily access was lacking. COVID-19 still impacts older adults’ quality of life in terms of being able to move around freely for both social and health concerns.
Transportation: Participants felt there were not enough adequate transportation options and felt hamstrung by this, especially if they could no longer drive. A lack of access to transportation, whether it be personal automobile or public transit, was identified as a current or anticipated roadblock.
Housing: Finding and maintaining a place to live can be a huge challenge for older adults. Attendees specifically mentioned the inflated cost of housing and the desire to remain in their own homes. They also mentioned the strain associated with transitioning to another home or from a medical setting back into the home.
Independence: Many older adults want to be able to do things on their own. Challenges to independence include lack of transportation, mobility, social connections, appropriate housing and financial and other resources. Many older adults have difficulty admitting they may need additional accommodations to maintain their independence.  
To view an extended version of this document featuring more topics and in-depth findings, please scan the QR code below. This tool can be used to rationalize research into the areas mentioned, as these areas have been formally identified by older adults as important to their quality of life.
This product was created by The Aging PCOR Learning Collaborative, a project partnership between Collective Insight and the LeadingAge LTSS Center at UMass Boston. To see more awesome products created alongside older adult advisors, visit the Collective Insight and the LeadingAge LTSS Center’s webpage: www.collectiveinsightllc.com/aging-pcor-hub