Older Adult Education: A Guide to Research, Programs, and Policies

Older Adult Education: A Guide to Research, Programs, and Policies

Older Adult Education: A Guide to Research, Programs, and Policies

Older Adult Education: A Guide to Research, Programs, and Policies


This very first comprehensive book-length reference guide dealing with older adult education is not only current on theoretical developments but also on the latest programs, policies, and research. It is unique in placing the subject of lifelong learning into historical perspectives, discussing ways in which programs have been transformed over the last 15 to 20 years, and in considering the impact of institutional policies on older adult education. Computer and electronic learning programs, research and programs dealing with intergenerational education, and future prospects in the field are surveyed also. Appendixes describe important organizations, programs, sources of information, state tuition waiver policies, and other guidelines and data. Relevant statistics, research findings, numerous tables, original documents, and anecdotes relating experiences of older learners further enrich this state-of-the-discipline reference guide for academic, professional, and public libraries and broad audiences of teachers, students, professionals, and general readers concerned with education and older adults.


The role and importance of education in the lives of older Americans cannot be separated from the broader picture of changing lifestyles and choices, demographic dynamics, public policy on matters such as health care and income support, the new longevity of today's seniors, and unprecedented transformations in how people view (and what they expect of) the new stage of life we call retirement. That broader picture is made up of contrasting facts that reflect the diversity of the aging population and a spectrum of attitudes about later life.


Approximately one-third of the people traveling along golf course cart paths in the United States are individuals over sixty-five (Vierck 1993), while the percentage of older Americans who participate in credit-bearing and informal (noncredit) organized educational programs is an estimated 5 to 7 percent.

Consider that more than 30 percent of the vacation travelers and 60 percent of cruise passengers are people over sixty-five, who comprise less than 13 percent of the United States population. On the other side, almost 12 percent of the U.S. elderly have household incomes below the poverty level. Now add several additional facts to this list. Had you been born at the beginning of the century, you could have expected to live to age forty-seven and probably could not have counted on a retirement period lasting more than a handful of years. By 1990, the at-birth life expectancy had soared to seventy-five, and the average number of years one was freed, or forced, from the work force was seventeen.

The average age of retirement in 1990 was sixty-three, leaving most people a couple of decades to figure out the meaning and purpose of the so-called . . .

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