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Keeping Current with Events into your Nineties, and beyond!

by Nanci Levy | Mar 02, 2018

Current Events 1 - August 2017Every time you turn around there seems to be “Breaking News”. News about the tax overhaul, healthcare reform, the “Me Too” movement, “DACA”, and school shootings can upsetting and overwhelming, and it is difficult for anyone to keep up. Our residents are not alone in wanting to stay current on events in the news. While more and more people are getting their news online these days, (According to the Pew Research Center, as of October 2017, 30% of Americans age 65 and older get their news online, which is an increase from 20% in 2016.),  I would estimate that close to 95% of Handmaker residents still get their news from the TV and the newspaper. And for the last 6 months or so, some get their news from our Current Events class.

This group of 75-100+-year-olds meets every month to discuss what is going on in the world, and in their own community. These Handmaker residents are remarkably well informed on their own from watching TV and reading the newspaper, but meeting together as a group gives them an opportunity to get a better understanding about some of the issues in the news, and even more importantly for most, a chance to discuss the news with others in their community. It really gets them thinking.

Each meeting generally focuses on a few topics that seem to be the most prominent issues of the moment. Residents have the opportunity to read a selection of articles about the topics that are made available to them a few days before the class. When we meet, we start with an overview of each topic, and then the discussion begins. We have some very bright, well-read residents, who also have some strong opinions from across the political spectrum.

This week’s discussion focused mainly on the shooting at a Florida High School. Every resident was upset about the news, and shared their feelings and thoughts. We discussed the fortitude of the students, and debated the various proposals in the news that were being suggested to tackle the issue of school shootings, and gun violence in general. We also talked about the NRA, and how much influence it has on politicians. While political affiliations at Handmaker run the spectrum, and there is not always agreement on the issues, on this topic, there was agreement on the following: 1) Teachers should not be armed. 2) No one needs to have access to an assault weapon, or any device that could turn a gun into an assault weapon. 3) There should be background checks for mental stability and criminal records before anyone can purchase any gun. 4) There should be a waiting period of a few days before any gun is allowed to be purchased. There was plenty of discussion about the second amendment, and how heavily armed Americans are. While some of our residents expressed that they did not think anyone should own a gun, there were also some who felt that Americans should have the right to own a gun to protect themselves. Everyone agreed that no one should have an assault weapon. One resident suggested that even if we do have stricter gun laws in place, criminals will find a way to purchase one, and a few agreed with this.

Our Current Event class always involves some lively, but civil, discussion and debate. Some issues are more controversial than others, and some are harder to understand than others. “Net Neutrality” was a tough one.  I tried to give them an overview of what the internet was, and what “net neutrality” meant. Since none of them grew up with the internet, and few use it today, it is a just very difficult concept for many of them to grasp. Since very few of our residents have any understanding of what social media is, it was also not easy to explain about how Russians may have interfered with elections through social media. I showed them my Facebook newsfeed on my smartphone so that they could get an idea, but when it is not something that you use, it is difficult to understand. Many residents have gained an understanding of what google is, though. Whenever they ask about something that I do not know, I look it up on my smartphone. They love that! So, we will continue to stay current here at Handmaker, in any way that we can.