Statement Of Madeleine Greene A.F.C., C.F.C.S.
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
May 7, 2003
Maryland Cooperative Extension
University of Maryland-College Park
Thank you for this opportunity to respond. I am here today to support your interest in improving the quality of life for the over 55 population. As a tenured faculty member of the College of Agriculture and a community educator I work on a daily basis with the senior population in central Maryland. My professional interests have included environmental topics with a special focus on potentially hazardous household products. Successful long term living and the personal finance issues related to long term living have also been an interest and teaching area. I am very aware of individual, family and community issues related to seniors. As the recipient and co-investigator on an EPA-USDA supported grant to produce educational materials I have a perspective on how to reach individuals that comes from hands on field experience.
What we know about seniors:
They rely on friends and family for their information
They enjoy and use free media outlets
They ask medical and personal service professionals for information and validation.
They do not seek change and often reject change in the face of viable alternatives.
Many will not seek out, nor accept help, because they see this as giving up control.
Many live in housing that puts them at risk of falls, fire, and compromised health.
Limited fixed incomes often bring choices that compromise quality of life.
They are as different as the population of the United States and one size does not fit all.
The Office on Aging network is short handed and strapped for resources.
Mobility is often an issue. Information needs to be brought to them. Their family members can be an important link in the communication chain but are often in a distant community.
Most live in their own homes or with relatives.
A small percentage live in congregate housing.
They are unaware that their indoor air could be compromising their health.
To be effective an outreach campaign needs to:
- Clearly state the issue:
- Have multiple message carriers (physicians, nurses, local health service providers, heating and air conditioning contractors, community educators, and the media.)
- Multiple delivery methods need to be basic to the design.
- Continuing Medical Education (CME) opportunities for professionals.
- Print and electronic resources that are widely promoted and available in sufficient quantity to make an impact.
- Outreach funding using a grassroots approach should be supported to reach into communities. It is not enough to produce slick materials if there is not a results and impact oriented plan for the use and implementation of these materials.
- Have across government and industry partnerships/coalitions integral to any plan.
- Allow sufficient time and resources to do the job well at any level to do the job well.
Thank you for the opportunity to raise issues from a local, practical, hands on perspective. Too often campaign are a one shot deal with no follow-up and no effort placed at the local level to carry information to the public. All those efforts do in my opinion is make ad agencies rich, a bureaucrat busy, no money left to support a meaningful outreach, with consumers confused and bewildered. Let's not repeat mistakes that I am certain were well intentioned efforts that just did not go far enough to make a difference.
May 7, 2003