Letters to editor

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This Pandemic has blurred the spheres of school, work and home. Students and their families have had to adapt to so much! With an upcoming School Board election and Infrastructure legislation pending, it is time to consider curricular approaches that serve the unique and specific needs of this community.

According to the United States Census (2019), one in four in Tillamook county is age 65 or older. That’s 26.4% of all Tillamook county residents. The United States trails Tillamook county by nearly 10% at 16.5% age 65 and older.

America is aging and Tillamook county could lead the way. Students who study the Aging process (Gerontology) often pursue careers serving older adults in settings ranging from health care to private sector product development and innovation. Those lobbying for funding for the frail elderly may have (unintentionally) skewed public perception of old age as a time of dependency and dementia. Gerontology students learn that aging is a normal stage of life and gain a realistic and accurate perception of the entire life course. Awareness of what is normal vs what is disease with aging encourages students to explore how to help older adults they know. This knowledge also discourages negative Ageist stereotypes and Age discrimination.

Normal sensory changes with age include the yellowing and uneven thickening of the lens of the eye (Presbyopia) which eventually makes all pastel colors look gray. The easiest colors for all ages to see are red, yellow and orange. The most effective combination is a yellow background with black letters; Helvetica style typeface. Lining America’s highways are green signs with reflective white letters—a relic from 1930s Work Progress Administration surveys of men ages 18 - 30. Presbyopia obscures green and the white reflective letters cause glare. Teenagers may have the most car accidents, but older adults are most likely to be in fatal ones. Highly visible signage becomes more important as drivers grow older.

Presbycusis is the normal age-related changes in hearing. High frequency tones are lost. Smell, taste and touch also deteriorate with age. Our skin, nose and tongue lose the cells that process environmental information. The aged nose cannot always detect spoiled food or a gas leak. Two-thirds of your taste buds are gone by age 65, which can decrease appetite and makes detection of spoiled food difficult.

Replace worn Green Highway signs and Blue-stamped expiration dates with warm colored backgrounds and legible print—and you might save lives! Decades of Charity Drives have equipped Tillamook High School with a culture responsive to those in need. Few high schools in this country can compete with Cheesemaker generosity. When one in four people in your county is over age 65 and you lead the nation by 10%, the time is right to teach your children about the Aging population and process. Tillamook county students have proven they will put Gerontology knowledge to good use.

-Julie Werner, Tillamook

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