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Internet Resources

The large number of Internet sites related to aging has both simplified and complicated electronic information retrieval. Many government, professional, trade, and consumer organizations maintain informational pages on aging on the World Wide Web. In addition, nearly every institution of higher learning has its own site—with links to countless others. Commercial websites are available, ranging from those promoting specific services, products, and materials to those offering a virtual shopping mall of items.

Medical and pharmaceutical sites vary in quality, with some offering sound scientific advice and others promoting questionable "cures" and nostrums that raise concerns about Internet quackery. Caution is needed when researching information from unknown commercial sites.

Rather than inundate the reader with am extensive index of sites, the following selections offer a basic list of reliable sources of information from well-established agencies and organizations in aging. Each of these sites have links to many other locations. In addition, many of the entries in this encyclopedia refer the reader to Internet sites that are specific to that topic.

AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons; http://www.aarp.org/). This thirty million member organization has tremendous influence on aging policy and legislation in the United States and around the world. The AARP promotes the interests of people age fifty and older, particularly on issues of health and economic well-being. The "Research and Reference" section in the topic guide index on AARP's home page opens into a wealth of articles, data, and information on aging.

Administration on Aging (AoA; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; More and more elderly people are learning to use computers and the Internet, which has a wealth of information of interest to older people. Clare Meadows (right) receives assistance from thirteen-year-old Dominic Penn during Meadows's senior computing class at the Chestnut Ridge Middle School in Washington Township, New Jersey. (AP photo by Allen Oliver.) www.aoa.dhhs.gov). The AoA was established as the agency with primary responsibility for programs initiated under the Older Americans Act (1965). The AoA's website offers information to various audiences, including older people, caregivers, practitioners, and researchers. The home page "Quick Index" provides direct access to various programs that provide caregiver assistance, including the "Eldercare Locator," a directory service that assists people in finding local support resources for older persons. The site also provides information about the characteristics and needs of older Americans and about government programs that provide their welfare.

Alzheimer's Association (www.alz.org). The Alzheimer's Association is a voluntary organization that funds research on causes and treatments of Alzheimer's disease. Through a national network of local chapters, the organization serves as an educational and support resource for persons with Alzheimer's, and for those who care for them. The site has information tailored to persons with Alzheimer's, their families, health care workers, and the media.

American Geriatrics Society (AGS; www.americangeriatrics.org). The AGS is a professional society for physicians and other health providers. The AGS website describes the organization, its publications, and its activities, but also includes consumer education and health information, as well as numerous links to other professional and trade organizations and consumer aging and health.

American Society on Aging (ASA; www.asaging.org/). A source of information and training for persons working in the field of aging, the San Francisco–based national organization brings together professionals engaged in services, research, education, and policy. The site links to numerous constituent groups, such as the Business Forum on Aging; Forum on Religion, Spirituality and Aging; Healthcare and Aging Network; Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network; Lifetime Education and Renewal Network; Multicultural Aging Network; Mental Health and Aging Network; and the Network on Environments, Services and Technologies.

Canadian Association on Gerontology (CAG; www.cagacg.ca/). This national multidisciplinary organization promotes research, education, and policy on issues of aging. The site offers information concerning CAG conferences and publications, as well as links to Canadian educational programs in gerontology and geriatrics.

Elderhostel (www.elderhostel.org). A nonprofit organization founded in 1975, Elderhostel offers short-term educational travel experiences for persons age fifty-five and older. The website explains participation and registration, and also lists catalogs of learning and service programs conducted in most U.S. states and Canadian provinces and in many countries around the world.

Gerontological Society of America (GSA; www.geron.org). The GSA is the foremost U.S.based organization promoting research and scholarship in aging. Members come from the biological sciences, clinical medicine, behavioral and social sciences, policy and practice fields, and arts and humanities. The GSA publishes prestigious scholarly journals, and its website features links to recent research findings and to many other organizations in aging, including sources for research funding. Allied units of the GSA include a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

GeroWeb (geroserver.iog.wayne.edu/GeroWebd/GeroWeb.html). This "virtual library," sponsored by the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, will provide the user with a list of Internet sites in response to search terms, or in relation to predefined categories such as biology/genetics, local resources, mental health, employment, grants/funding, sociology, and retirement. All the sites included in the virtual library are oriented towards those "interested in gerontology, geriatrics, the process of aging, services for the elderly, or the concerns of senior citizens in general."

Healthfinder (www.healthfinder.gov/). Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this site leads users to sound health information, including "selected online publications, clearinghouses, databases, web sites, and support and self-help groups, as well as government agencies and not-for-profit organizations that produce reliable information for the public." The homepage is organized with links in categories such as "Hot topics," "Health news" and "Just for you," under which there is a special category for seniors.

InfoAging (www.infoaging.org/). Site is sponsored by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), an organization that promotes biomedical research, this educational site is organized like an E-zine, featuring interesting, up-to-date articles on biology, advances in medicine, and health concerns of older persons.

International Longevity Center—USA (ILCUSA; www.ilcusa.org). This multinational, nonprofit institute is dedicated to research, education, and policy about longevity and population aging. ILCUSA emphasizes positive ways that greater life expectancy can impact nations around the world. The site lists the educational symposiums and workshops sponsored by ILCUSA, and also posts reports, working papers, and other articles.

Medicare (www.medicare.gov). This official site offers both basic and detailed information on the Medicare health insurance program. The site describes health-plan choices, the location of facilities, and participating physicians. There is information about Medigap policies and prescription drug assistance programs. The site has Medicare-related news and updates, as well as links to various types of health care resources.

National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA; www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACDA). This research-oriented site is located in the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. NACDA acquires, preserves, and distributes scientific data sets relevant to studies in aging. NACDA provides free access to over one hundred such data sets, as well as providing links to other ICPSR data sets. NACDA provides user and technical support and also conducts educational programs to promote secondary data analysis in research on aging.

National Center for Health Statistics: Aging Activities (www.cdc.gov/nchs/agingact.htm). This site provides access to "Trends in Health and Aging," an electronic data warehouse that describes the health status, behaviors, utilization, and cost of health care for older Americans; to "Longitudinal Studies of Aging," a set of surveys of health status and behaviors across two cohorts of older persons; and to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics; as well as to such forum products as Older Americans 2000: Key Indicators of Well Being, Wallchart on Aging, 65+ in the United States, and Trends in the Health of Older Americans.

The National Council on the Aging (NCOA; www.ncoa.org/). The NCOA is an association of organizations and professionals engaged in advocacy and service provision for older people. Its primary activities include assisting community organizations; program development and implementation; and promoting aging-friendly public policies, legislation, and practices. The NCOA website describes research and demonstration projects, policy initiatives, and activities of the ten constituent units of the organization. The site also provides resources specifically oriented toward the aging worker.

National Institute on Aging (NIA; www.nia.nih.gov/). The NIA conducts and supports biomedical and behavioral research on aging processes. An agency within the National Institutes of Health, it was founded in 1974 to conduct research within its own laboratories and clinics, as well as fund research on aging at universities, medical centers, and scientific institutes. The site provides access to information regarding research funding and training opportunities, intramural and extramural research programs, research conferences, workshops, and meetings. The site also contains an authoritative section on "health information," which provides links to the NIA's Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Program. Copies of public service ads are also included, as well as access to a large number of NIA fact sheets on medical and lifestyle topics.

Social Security Administration (www.ssa.gov). This is the agency that administers the Social Security program of retirement, survivors, and disability benefits. The website has information about taxes, eligibility and benefits, and instructions about how to apply for benefits. There is also a section with information for employers. The site describes the operations and history of the program, its financing, and the future of Social Security. Links to Medicare are included.

SeniorNet (www.seniornet.org/php/). A nonprofit organization that provides access to, and education about, computers and the Internet to persons age fifty and older. SeniorNet offers computer classes and workshops at hundreds of local "Learning Centers," which are reviewed on their site. The site also sponsors "Roundtables," senior discussion groups on a variety of topics, and "Enrichment Centers," with content in areas of special interest.

Seniors Canada Online (www.seniors.gc.ca/). A Canadian government site that provides easy online access to a wide range of information and to the services offered by multiple governmental offices. The site includes articles related to health, family, housing, and legal issues. In the category of "Employment," one can find information regarding various federal assistance programs, resources, and regulations for employers, as well as employment services. The site also contains key information about old age security and the Canada Pension Plan.

United Nations Programme on Ageing (www.un.org/esa/socdev/ageing/index.html). The UN Programme on Ageing, which focuses on the aging of the world population, gathers information on national, international, and nongovernmental programs and policies. The site includes articles about the aging of the world population, describes the World Assembly on Ageing, and lists other international activities. There is a global database of policies and programs that can be searched by year, country, issue, or certain population characteristics.

The U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov and www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/age.html). This site provides an abundant amount of data on any number of population topics. By selecting "Age Data" or "Elderly/Older Population Data" at the "Subjects A to Z" index, users can view data tables and other governmental publications regarding older populations. The links are not only organized by geographic level of data (county, state, national, international), but also by specific older populations, such as baby boomers, persons 55+, and persons 65+.


Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 2