Intergenerational Index
The Grandfriends Project -- A Program Creating Friendships Across the Generations Martin Kimeldorf, the author

CD-ROM & Online Research


In Chapter 4, you learned that you could gather useful and interesting information from listening and interviewing. In addition to these people- sources, another whole world of facts, images, and ideas come alive on found a computer screen when you search for information online. Online in this case refers to any time you search for information using a computer connected to a CD-ROM source or the Internet.

In Chapter 8, you'll look for additional information about aging and ageism using an online search. This new information will add to your overall expertise on the subject of geriatric care in particular or the helping professions in general. In other words, you will be building a deep knowledge of what it takes to work with older people and this skill can be used in future job searches should you enter any field where working with people is required.

You will gather this additional knowledge using a computer rather than a book. This involves "logging on" to the Internet or calling up a CD-ROM information source, both of which will contain articles about aging. Once you log on, you tell the computer what you are looking for by entering a keyword which describes your topic. The computer then does the hunting for you, searching for any and all articles or documents which use your keyword in the title or the text. One story, which follows, depicts one student's adventures in the "online" world of the Internet. The other story shows how a student used a CD-ROM to find articles for his report topic on aging and ageism.


Chad Ward's muscular dystrophy was reaching a serious stage that increasingly sapped his strength. At the age of 16, his world became increasingly confined to the places he could reach in his motorized wheelchair. Though he was confined to a wheelchair and had limited use of his arms, he was able to extend his reach by going online and exploring what is often called "cyberspace." Chad's new mode of travel was a computer and a modem connected to the world via the Internet. Shortly before he died, Chad summed up his experiences in an essay which was distributed to friends and supporters online. A few excerpts from that essay, are reproduced with permission from his mother, Cheryl Ward:

I really don't like to go out much in public, where I am often greeted by stares. I get very embarrassed when people are uncomfortable; I sometimes feel like an alien visitor. Meeting face-to-face is really difficult because as I said, people become awkward and seem tongue tied when they see my highly mechanized wheelchair. They see the hardware and my disability, instead of me and my abilities. I am a real person, with real feelings. As a result, meeting people and making friends is hard for me. While people often don't know what to say to me in person--that is not the case when I connect with folks online.

I rarely leave my house because it takes a lot of planning and time. Transportation is not always easy to obtain and many places are inaccessible to a motorized wheelchair. Meeting people is laborious and time consuming. But when I journey through cyberspace, I am able to connect with people and make friends by simply typing on my keyboard and moving my mouse. I can talk to friends city wide, nation wide, world wide, all over the place! I don't have to face stares or feel inadequate. And, the people I meet and talk to don't have to feel embarrassed. They talk with the "REAL ME". My computer allows me to experience the same stuff ambulatory people do--with a minimum of effort.

I can search the encyclopedia pages online with the flick of a button. I can cruise the online movie reviews and find out what's worth seeing. It's easy to check out menus of restaurants I haven't been to yet. I also enjoy downloading games from the shareware department and printing out weather maps or cartoons. Because I am a true and devoted SPORTS NUT, I always head for my favorite area - the "SPORTS LINK" forum. I can locate up-to-the-minute sports scores, find out all about my favorite athletes, and attend sporting events without fighting traffic and fans. The field is only limited by how fast I can move my mouse or trackball.

Being online has helped to re-define the word "accessibility." But, you don't have to have a disability to enjoy and profit from this system. In fact, I wish every kid at Timberline (my high school) could share my online experience.

While not everyone will have a chance to go online, most people will experience a disabling condition at some time or another. Perhaps, you will someday be confined to a wheelchair due to an auto or home accident, a sports injury, or simply as a product of getting older. Suddenly, you'll find yourself cut off from all that is comfortable and familiar to you. The world can become an awfully lonely place when this happens. If that does happen, I say, "Get Connected--Go Online."

As you can see from Chad's story, young and old, abled and disabled, everyone can benefit from learning how to explore the world by going online with a computer. Whether you use a computer or a CD-ROM, all kinds of interesting experiences and useful information set just a keystroke away.

At River Ridge High School, students have many different ways to explore information online. In a Granfriends Project at this school, students were given the challenge to find three interesting facts about aging and ageism in our society. Later, they used these facts as part of their research for a final report on their Granfriend Project. This report was part of the effort required to earn additional social studies credit.

If you look at the end of John Brantley's report , you'll notice that he used a computer source in his reference section which comes at the end of his report. It is listed as "Aging around the world." SIRS, CD-ROM. Spring 1996. Knowledge Source Publishers. The method he used is described in the background section which follows.


When you hunt for information online these days, you'll probably do this using a computer network. For instance, your school or public library may have all their books and many of their resources on a computer hard drive or CD-ROM system. The information is then distributed or shared across a computer network.

When you log on to the network you can call up different computerized sources to see if they have the information you need. At River Ridge High School many of the school's magazine articles are stored on CD-ROM. One is put out by a company named SIRS. It is like having a encyclopedia of magazine articles ready and waiting for your keyword search command.

When John logged on to the computer he follows these steps:
First-->Hit the ENTER key on the computer and then type the student password.
Second-->Locate your CD-ROM program on the computer menu.
Third-->Under the "Subject Heading" enter the word "Aging." Then ask the computer to find all the articles which have this word in them.
Fourth-->Look at the various article titles. When you see one that interests you, see if it contains any interesting facts about aging. A sample from the 1997 CD-ROM contained the following articles:
Old Age, New Attitude
  • This is about positive attitudes towards growing old.
    Elder Care, What Are The Options?
  • The article contains a good summary for care services.
    Who is Old?
  • This piece is about our aging population and people over 100
    Giving up Car Keys
  • Discusses whether or not elders should be allowed to drive?
    Live Long and Prosper
  • This article has great graphics and charts.
    An Age Old Problem--Care by parents
  • about your parents taking care of their parents
Fifth-->Write down or print out the information. Most times you just want to print a screen full and not the entire piece.
John looked under the menu and browsed a group of articles under "Aging, Cross-Cultural Studies." Under this he located an article entitled Aging Around the World. This article had many fascinating facts about the number of people in the world over 65, and how that number is changing in different countries. He also found some interesting tid-bits in the article Aging of Americans Effects Us All. In this article, the author wrote that older people could learn a lesson from adolescents. John recorded this lesson and shared it with his teacher.

Then John decided to look for items about Ageism but nothing was written. The librarian advised him to use a keyword search on the word Ageism . The computer brought back 13 articles on this topic. He read the summaries until he found one he liked. John did most of his research without ever opening a book or hunting through stacks of old magazines.

It's easy and quick. If you have access to CD-ROM at school, home, or library, you might want to use this system for gathering information. There are usually people around who can help you the first couple of times you try searching for ideas and information online.

Beware of finding too much information

Sometimes if you use the "keyword" method the computer brings you back hundreds of articles. To cut down the list you can add additional key words and link them with the word "and." Thus, you might ask the computer to search for keywords like this: ageism AND discrimination. If you get too many articles, look for one that is close to your topic. Determine the general subject or topic it belongs to. Then see if you can browse the topic instead of using a keyword search. If you find too little or too much, you can ask your librarian for assistance. They know how to make the "search engines" work for you.


You may wish to search for information on the Internet's World Wide Web or Web for short. You can begin by using a "search engine" to do a key word search. You can also use what is called a "browser" to snoop around under a general topic such as "aging" or "gerontology."

If you just want to see what is under the topic of aging, you could begin with the Yahoo web site. The address or URL code for Yahoo is: If you search on the keyword "aging" in Yahoo you'll find that they have categories to browse such as Health which also links to Geriatrics , and geriatrics links to Aging. You can click on any key word to browse that area.

Sometimes, you'll want to look at a specific topic such as "aging trends" or "aging and population." In this instance, Yahoo will often connect you to search engines like Alta Vista. Or you can go directly to a search engines by using Alta Vista address ( ) or Web Crawler's address ( Using a search engine and looking for information pertaining to seniors and education, the following web sites were found in 1997.

The overall best site to begin at is the one hosted by The National Academy for Teaching and Learning about Aging (NATLA). This national organization promotes education about aging-related issues in teacher preparation universities and K-12 schools. They have excellent links and research findings. Reach them on the WEB at

For General Information

ElderWeb Online Eldercare Sourcebook


Institute for Longevity Research

Seniors Computer Information
Project Ottowa

For Research

Aging Research Centre (ARC)

Gerontological Society of America

National Aging Research Institute

National Institute on Aging

WSU Institute of Gerontology

For Organizations

AARP (about services, advocacy)

Elder hostel (about learning)

Third Age Centre, St. Thomas Univ.

Each site also connects to other sources of information. In addition, you can always e-mail the webmaster for advice on where to look for the specific information you need. Sometimes they know just where to send you on the Web.


If you have access to online information you'll be able to practice using the computer to do online research. This process is outlined in Assignment #8-Online Research Guide.

By the end of this chapter, you have studied stereotypes, ageism, and aging through personal contact with people, discussion, and online research. As a result, you should feel fairly knowledgeable on the topic of aging and geriatric care. In the next chapter, you'll learn that aging is not a single stage in life. Instead, as people grow old, there are many phases or stages yet to come.

Intergenerational Index   next page arrow

Martin Kimeldorf,
© 1999
All Rights Reserved.
Amby Duncan-Carr,
page designer
Material from both THE GRANDFRIENDS PROJECT, A Program Creating Friendships Across The Generations and the companion piece, PROJECT LEADER'S GUIDE FOR THE GRANDFRIENDS PROJECT, A Program Creating Friendships Across The Generations is reproduced here with the permission of the publisher, Fairview Press. Printing or downloading a single copy of this document for personal use is permitted; teachers may reproduce this document for use in a single classroom, only. Transmission in any form or further duplication is prohibited without the express written consent of the author. In addition, any use of the document code, itself, requires the written permission of the web page designer.

Kimeldorf Bibliography
Amby's Resources
Kimeldorf Autobiography

© 1999   Amby Duncan-Carr   All Rights Reserved.

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