The ageing population in Australia and many other countries has become the subject of interest and research in many disciplines. Successful ageing depends not only on understanding the physical effects of ageing but also the mental well being of older people.
The papers here represent a small sample of current research and reports about older people, focussing particularly on the relationship between lifelong learning, volunteering, isolation, aged care and other factors, and physical and mental health particularly amongst isolated older people.
They will be of interest not only to older people themselves but to professionals and policy advisers in the fields of gerontology, adult learning, mental health and volunteering.
The following are draft versions. Please see the relevant publications directly before quoting.
This is a draft version of U3A research provided by leaders of U3A-like organisations around the world in 2011. The final version of this research is published as an appendix to Chapter 4 written by Rick Swindell entitled 'Successful Ageing and international approaches to later-life learning'. The chapter and appendix appears in G.M. Boulton-Lewis and M. Tam (eds). Active Ageing, Active Learning: Issues and Challenges, Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects 15, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-2111-1_3, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012
Abstract: Objective: To quantify and ascribe a dollar value to University of the Third Age (U3A) volunteerism in Australia and NZ. Method: Retired researchers and U3A leaders from both countries cooperated via the Internet to devise and manage a comprehensive survey of U3A activities in 2008. Results: *164 of 265 independent U3As in Australasia provided detailed counts of all activities carried out by their volunteers. *Australian U3As were supported by 871,000 volunteer hours in 2008. NZ U3As were supported by 69,000 volunteer hours in 2008. *A notional value of $20 per volunteer hour is rationalised. It values U3A volunteerism at $21 million for Australia and $1.9 million for NZ. Conclusion: Expert retirees who are engaged in meaningful voluntary activities in their U3As provide valuable in-kind contributions to the well-being of members and to the national economy.
The main focus of the book is to provide insights into current innovation, issues to be resolved and approaches for widespread adoption to enable seniors and their families to enjoy the promised benefits of technology. The book can be found on the IGI Global website http://www.igi-global.com/ and entering the book editors' names Soar, Swindell, Tsang
The self-help University of the Third Age (U3A) is an adult education approach for older people in which all the teaching and administration is carried out by unpaid volunteers. The purpose of this study was to reveal some of the successful ageing characteristics of the 205 independent U3As in Australia and the 60 independent U3As in New Zealand (NZ). An eight member project management group comprising retired researchers and U3A leaders from both countries managed the research process. A detailed 3-part questionnaire designed to: highlight details about the activities of each U3A; quantify the nature and extent of voluntarism within U3As; and bring to light management’s vision for the future, was mailed to all U3As. Results show that the all volunteer nature of an adult education organisation run by retired experts is an effective and highly rated approach although some difficulties are emerging as U3As struggle to cope with rising rental/hiring costs. The value of U3A voluntarism in Australia is conservatively calculated to be $21 million; in NZ it is $1.9 million. Many findings in this study point to the hidden value to society of a low cost, adult education model like U3A that utilises the skills of retired experts to provide successful ageing activities for fellow retirees. However, U3A managers may need to adapt their practises to cater for the retirement needs of the new wave of baby boomers. This report contains many tables and figures that summarise the “state of play” in U3A Australasia.
2009 paper provides current information about U3As around the world with contributions from colleagues in a number of different countries.
Paper presented at the Celebration 2007: ACT Conference Sept 13/14
2007 descriptive paper prepared for North American Elderhostel conference
Paper prepared for the Web4seniors 5th Learning in Later Life Conference, October 4-5, 2007, Ulm University, Germany. Paper discusses examples of constituency research in which U3A members carry out research 'with' (rather than the usual 'on') older people. The paper then discusses how the Internet has opened up new possibilities for international cooperation such as wikis and FlashMeeting.
'A Voice Worth Listening To' was published in 2007. This excerpt (pp. 18-23) is one of many stories about Australians and New Zealanders aged 80 and older who continue to do remarkable things with their lives. Publisher/purchasing details are also given.
2005 paper published in the New Zealand Journal of Adult Learning 33(2) 26-46 discusses the importance of continuing to keep the mind active in later life and recent programs which attract older learners.
2004: Paper presented at Oct 2004 AIUTA symposium in Shanghai. Invites U3A-type organisations to share resources for the world community of older learners.
2003 findings from extensive email 'interviews' with nine participants of U3A Online courses
Proceedings of the 10th Annual International Conference on Post-compulsory Education and Training. Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia 3-5 December 2002. 168-175. ISBN 1-875378-41-8.
2004 submission to the Australian Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Reference Committee
Ageing Well: Addressing the Multicultural Challenge. International Symposium, Melbourne, Australia 9-10 October 2003. [Proceedings published September 2004, Faculty of Human Development, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia ISBN: 1 86272 648 5]
Proceedings of the 1st Annual International Conference on Cognition, Language and Special Education Research. Surfers Paradise, Australia, 5-7 December 2003. Volume Two, 11-19. ISBN: 0 909291 86 1.
2004 Text Analysis of full transcripts of answers provided by nine U3AOnline participants.
International Journal of Lifelong Education 21(5), 414-429. 2002.
Social Alternatives, Vol 20, 17-23. 2001.
New Zealand Journal of Adult Learning 28(1) 23-31. 2000.
Education and Ageing 15(2), 251-263. 2000.
Proceedings of the XXth Congress of the AIUTA. Quebec, Canada (14-16 September). 2000.
This paper acknowledges the political background and developmental processes that led to the development of U3AOL. The paper was a foreword to the comprehensive evaluation report of the initial stage of the program's operation.
(ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.431 103) 1999.
This is the full 103 page evaluation study which was compiled to evaluate the success of the initial pilot year of U3A Online.
New Zealand Journal of Adult Learning. 27(1) 41-57. 1999.
Comparative Education 35(2) 235-247. 1999.
Australasian Journal on Ageing, 17(1), 29-32. 1998.
Educational Gerontology, 21(5), 429-447. 1995
This study describes the first investigation of a virtual U3A for older people with sound minds who cannot easily leave their place of residence. Volunteer tutors from an Australian U3A were trained in teleconferencing techniques to teach a variety of courses to 18 ill and disabled people who were isolated and confined to their homes. Participants were randomly chosen from a list of 42 names provided by a caring agency and they ranged in age from 58-92 years old. A trained nurse visited participants before, during and after the 8-week course program to monitor health and well-being changes. Positive outcomes were recorded indicating that some older people with sound minds who cannot leave their homes are prepared to learn to use new technologies in order to engage in meaningful social and cognitively stimulating activities.