Earn your 'Mastery' certificate in 5 steps

I need your help. A few months ago I had a bold, audacious idea. It involved designing and offering an online (computer-based) series of courses focused on need-to-know information for older adults. I envisioned it available without cost, and so attractive to aging adults and their family members that taking the courses would feel almost like drinking chocolate milk.

I'm not sure where I got that milk analogy, but I must have had a particularly delicious, rich-tasting (nonfat, of course) glass of chocolate milk around that time and the experience guided my continued thinking.

I envisioned five courses resulting in a "Mastery of Aging Well" certificate. The first topic would be "Age-Related Memory Difficulties." A National Council on Aging (NCOA) study identified it as the issue we most worry about as we age.

In that same study, researchers also found loneliness was right up there in the "worry about/need-to-know-more" category. So sensing a relationship between loneliness and depression, the second course would be called "Depression in Later Life." By the way, as many as one-third of people over 65 are reported as having depression in some form. Very treatable, by the way — early intervention is key.

Let me share my entire vision and then I'll show you where I need your help — stay with me. Maybe you could have a glass of chocolate milk while you read this — or opt for hot chocolate if you prefer.

The third course would be "Medication Jeopardy." I see it as containing loads of helpful hints to assure medications are taken safely.

For example, ideas about what you say to your doctor when he says — "Let's start you a new medication." (Hint: Are there lifestyle changes I could make so I wouldn't have to take that medication?")

The fourth course is "Food as Medicine." Again, it's full of commonsense information about how food affects us as we age. For example, a food that helps with constipation (a possible problem when you take lots of medications) is canned pumpkin. It's nice to know that with Thanksgiving coming up, right?

And, finally, there's a course on physical activity and aging. My working title is: "It's a Beautiful Thing: Aging Bodies in Motion." Love that title.

I really thought creating this "mastery series" was important. I'm a follow-through person, so I wrote a proposal and acquired a grant (time out for a quiet "yippee") to support development. And now I'm on point to design and implement "Mastery of Aging Well" for the entire world to use. (I know — a bit over the top, I do tend to get that way sometimes).

Experts at Oregon State University who are savvy about online education are supporting me with all this, as is Oregon's AARP (big "yippee!"). Before we proceed further, I will also need your support. So, would you please go to http://tinyurl.com/aging-well-survey and provide me with feedback. When you've completed the survey (it takes only a few minutes) — and you have until Dec. 31 — you will be automatically entered in a drawing for a $250 Harry and David gift certificate!

Willing? Thank you

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