“Overall, it appears that older adults can achieve an improved sense of well-being by pursuing experiences that are meaningful and tied to emotional information.”

and learning as a result of a weakened capacity for attention and various types of memory performance. Because older adults often face declines in hearing, vision, and motor control, deficits in fluid intelligence can appear exaggerated. Studies also have shown that the extra effort expended by a hearing-impaired listener in order to perform a task successfully comes at the cost of processing resources that would otherwise be directed toward remembering the steps of the task.

Decline in fluid intelligence could have an impact on older adults’ ability to use the computer. Older adults make more errors and perform at a lower level than young people do. In addition, they demonstrate a lower ability to edit out unnecessary information. Because the baby boom generation will presumably continue to use the computer into old age, it is important that website designers keep these deficits in mind and make adjustments accordingly.

Nonetheless, the evidence indicates that older adults can benefit from informal science programs, especially if some of these issues are considered in the program design. One such program, called Project SEE, or Senior Environmental Experiences, is a partnership between Ramapo College of New Jersey, the Meadowlands Environmental Center, and regional aging community services, including the Bergen County Division of Senior Services. Its purpose is to increase interest in the environment among seniors by making it relevant to their lives. The next case study offers a glimpse into this program.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement