Ballard & Morris 2003

Ballard & Morris 2003 - The Family Life Education...

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2003, Vol. 52, No. 2 129 The Family Life Education Needs of Midlife and Older Adults* Sharon M. Ballard ** and Michael Lane Morris Using a life course perspective, we report the findings from a needs assessment for midlife and older adults regarding family life education. A sample of 264 adults aged 50 and older indicated interest in 29 family life education topics. The highest rated topics were nutrition and health, fitness and exercise, and positive aspects of aging. Overall, results from age and gender comparisons suggested that midlife adults (50–64) were more interested in family life education topics than were older adults (65 1 ) and that women were more interested than men. D emographic trends indicate an increase in midlife and older adult populations. People are living longer and healthier; yet the number of older adults who will need assistance with activities of daily living will grow simply be- cause of the aging population (American Association of Retired People [AARP], 1998). In the face of exponential increases in the cost of long-term care, there has been a shift from institu- tionalized care to home- and community-based care (AARP) with approximately one quarter of American households in- volved in providing caregiving services for an older family member (Pandya & Coleman, 2000). Midlife and older adults, however, are not the only ones receiving care. Many also find themselves caring for other older adults such as spouses, sib- lings, and parents, and there is an increased trend for grandpar- ents to be the primary caregivers of their grandchildren (AARP). Despite the common knowledge that America is aging, there has been limited attention given to the family life education needs of midlife and older adults and their families (Arcus, 1993). Family life education is a process that focuses on strengthening and enriching individuals and families (Thomas & Arcus, 1992), and older adulthood is a key time for family life education, as adults not only at- tempt to meet their own needs for family living but also may bear some responsibility for the family needs of other generations, that is, the needs of parents, their children, and possibly their grandchildren. (Arcus, p. 181) Shifting family roles, increased caregiving, grandparenting, and maintaining independence in aging are just a few of the topics that could be addressed in family life education programs targeted at midlife and older adults. For purposes of this study, we define midlife and older adults as adults aged 50 and over. We divided the population into four age subgroups: 50–64 (midlife), 65–74 (young old), 75–84 (old old), and 85 and older (oldest old). By defining the population as age 50 and older, we were able to include members of the baby boom generation who are currently transitioning into this life stage in great numbers. Population projections indicate that adults age 50 and over will reach almost 127 million by 2030 or about 36% of the population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). In addition, the sampling frame used for this study was *Partial funding for this study was provided by B.E.S.T families. This article was
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Ballard & Morris 2003 - The Family Life Education...

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