Current Aging Science (v.9, #3)

Meet Our Editorial Board Member: by George Perry (159-159).

Ageing and learning as conceptualized by senior adults in two cultures: Hong Kong and Australia by Maureen Tam, Rosemary Aird, Gillian Boulton-Lewis, Laurie Buys (162-177).
Background: This paper is about a study aimed to understand what successful ageing and later life learning mean to older adults in two cultures: Hong Kong and Australia.
Objective: It aims to shed light on (1) the meaning of ageing and learning as conceptualized by elders in Hong Kong and Australia; (2) the reasons for participation in later life learning, as well as, barriers for non-participation; (3) their learning interests and instructional preferences; and (4) the correlation between learning and successful ageing, and between learning and other well-being variables, including health, happiness and satisfaction.
Method: Two large samples of elders from Hong Kong (n=519) and Australia (n=421) participated in the study. A self-developed questionnaire, called the “Learning and Ageing Survey 2013”, was used. It included a total of 108 structured questions in three sections.
Results: Within group analysis of the data from the two locations indicated that there are more similarities, rather than differences, between elders in Hong Kong and Australia with respect to background characteristics, meanings of ageing and learning, reasons for participation, barriers for nonparticipation, learning interests and instructional preferences.
Conclusions: The fact that there are more commonalities, rather than differences, between the two samples of elders from two different cultures supports the claim that cultures very often overlap and coincide, and need not be seen as polarized, where becoming bi-cultural is possible. It is therefore important for cross-cultural comparative research to identify cultural differences, while at the same time, to recognize the existence of similarities between cultures.

Motivations of older Chinese adult learners in Hong Kong by Yuanyuan Fu, Xinyi Zhao, Ernest W.T. Chui (178-187).
Background: Motivation for learning, as an important aspect pertaining to studying the phenomenon of elder learning, is not fully explored in Hong Kong.
Objective: This study was designed to create a measurement to investigate the possible diversity of motivations of elder learners, so as to harness the older people's potential in learning and thus capitalize on productive ageing.
Methods: 283 older learners participating in learning activities at elder centres were interviewed. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to identify the latent factors in the learning motivation scale. Reliability of the scale was assessed. ANOVA testing was used to assess for differences in learning motivation by different socio-demographic variables.
Results: Four dimensions of older Chinese adults' motivations for engaging in learning have been found: 'keeping up with and contributing to society', 'fulfilment', 'social integration' and 'reemployment'. Elders with higher education levels were more likely to seek out opportunities for lifelong learning. Younger (aged 55 to 64) participants of learning activities were more likely than their older (aged 75 or above) counterparts to learn for fulfillment. Older adults who had volunteer experience were more motivated to engage in learning through keeping up with and contributing to society.
Conclusion: Older learners in Hong Kong participated in learning for self-fulfilment and development, contributing to society, maintaining social connection, and acquisition of knowledge and qualifications for possible (re)employment. Some of their socio-demographic features might influence their motivations. Learning programmes could be designed and improved based on older adults' motivations to meet their needs.

Older Australians: Structural barriers to learning in later life by Gillian Boulton-Lewis, Rosemary Aird, Laurie Buys (188-195).
Background: Learning in older age is associated with benefits including increases in skills, social interactions, self-satisfaction, coping ability, enjoyment, and resilience to age-related changes in the brain. It is also a fundamental component of active ageing and if active ageing objectives are to be met for the growing ageing population, barriers to learning need to be understood and addressed. This study aimed at determining the degree that structural factors deter people aged 55 years and older from engaging in learning activities. Method: The data were obtained from survey (n=421) with a purposive sample of Australian Seniors aged 55 to 75+, and open ended follow up interviews (n=40). The survey responses to the 22 barriers to learning questions were ranked and quantified. The issues identified in the interviews shed further light on the survey data. Results: The analyses revealed that factors related to educational institutions as well as infrastructure were commonly cited as barriers to participation in learning. In particular expense of educational programmes (55.1%), long travelling time (45.6%) other transportation difficulties (38.9%), lack of interest in offered programmes ((36.4) and lack of information about courses (31.1%) were seen as barriers. The interviews revealed and confirmed five main barriers; money, offerings of interest/availability, travel/transport, information, computer skills and being employed. Conclusion: The findings should provide policy makers, institutions, organizations and government with a list of areas where changes might be made so as to improve older people's opportunities for learning as they proceed through older age.

Ageing and Learning in Australia: Arguing an Evidence Base for Informed and Equitable Policy by Michael Cuthill, Laurie Buys, Bruce Wilson, Helen Kimberley, Denise Reghenzani, Peter Kearns, Sally Thompson, Barry Golding, Jo Root, Rhonda Weston (196-202).
Background: Given Australia's population ageing and predicted impacts related to health, productivity, equity and enhancing quality of life outcomes for senior Australians, lifelong learning has been identified as a pathway for addressing the risks associated with an ageing population. To date Australian governments have paid little attention to addressing these needs and thus, there is an urgent need for policy development for lifelong learning as a national priority. The purpose of this article is to explore the current lifelong learning context in Australia and to propose a set of factors that are most likely to impact learning in later years.
Conclusion: Evidence based policy that understands and incorporates learning opportunities for all citizens is required to meet emerging global challenges. Providing appropriate learning opportunities to seniors is one clear pathway for achieving diverse health, social and economic outcomes.

Background: Older adults in most societies are keen volunteers in a myriad of contexts for the betterment of individuals and for the agencies in which they volunteer. This article discusses how volunteerism among older adults may enhance their learning and the kinds of benefits and challenges they encounter in their work for employing authorities. It also considers how agencies can be better attuned to the lifelong learning aspirations of older volunteers. Methods: Research related to older adults, lifelong learning and the character of volunteerism is reviewed with examples provided from New Zealand and Australia of older adults' participation in volunteerism and consequential impact. Results: While volunteerism is normally viewed as a “win-win” situation for the volunteers and the organisations in which knowledge is further developed for varied purposes (economic sufficiency; personal development; active citizenship; social inclusion), there are nevertheless challenges for both parties. The article explores salient factors which function as enhancers or limitations for older volunteers in their work and learning. Conclusion: It is important that the motives of volunteers for participation are fully transparent and understood by the older adults themselves and by the relevant agencies. Organisations can provide considerable opportunities for older people to engage in continuing learning/ education but they need to be aware of effective recruitment and retention strategies; older people can provide a much needed labour resource where their previous life experiences can be drawn upon and they should be fully cognisant of the organisation's mission and how they can help to enhance it.

Background: Wealth can be considered as resource to promote either public welfare (i.e. through altruistic understanding) or personal well-being (i.e. through egoistic understanding). How people understand wealth can influence the distribution of valuable materialistic resources within a society. The current study examined how generativity concern, the concern for next generation and social welfare in the future, influenced people's understanding of wealth and whether age moderated the relationship.
Methods: A total of 133 participants ranging from 18 to 78 years old were interviewed with four open-ended questions regarding their understanding of wealth. Their generativity concern and demographical information were also recorded.
Results: Findings showed that generativity concern was related to a less egoistic and more altruistic understanding of wealth. Moreover, the effect of generativity concern was especially salient for younger adults, but not significant for older adults.
Conclusion: The results suggest that generativity concern is a construct that applies to both young and older adults. It can even be more influential to young adults' cognitive conceptualization in certain aspects (e.g., understanding of wealth) than that of older adults. Future studies can further investigate the general impact of generativity concern as well as the behavioral consequences of people's understanding of wealth. The results were also discussed in the context of lifelong learning.

Subclinical Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Heart Rate Variability Across Life Cycle by Sambashivaiah Sucharita, Tinku Thomas, Sharma Sowmya, Srinivasan Krishnamachari, Anura V. Kurpad, Mario Vaz (217-223).
Objectives: The present study aimed to evaluate association between plasma vitamin B12 and heart rate variability in clusters of population of various ages across life cycle.
Methods: 47 healthy children from an ongoing pregnancy and birth cohort, 32 young adults and 47 healthy elderly subjects were recruited following inclusion and exclusion criteria. All subjects underwent plasma vitamin B12, anthropometry and heart rate variability (HRV).
Results: The prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency (<148 pmol/l) across age groups were 51.1 % for children, 56.2 % for young adults and 61.7 % for the elderly group respectively. There was large variability in vitamin B12 status across the age groups. Frequency distribution of low frequency (LF) absolute units HRV in the elderly was skewed, whereas in children and young adult group there was wide distribution of LF HRV. Association between Log LF absolute units HRV and plasma vitamin B12 across groups were tested using curve fit models. In children a linear curve estimation best fitted and explained 9.3 % of the association (n=47, =0.003, P=0.03, R2=0.09). There was no association between log LF absolute units HRV and plasma vitamin B12 in the young adult group. In the elderly group a power curve fit model best fitted and explained 8.9 % of the association. Inspection of the power curve fit model demonstrated a curvilinear pattern; there was a linear association in the elderly with vitamin B12 levels less than 200 pmol/l. However, elderly with vitamin B12 values >200 pmol/l demonstrated saturation (plateauing) of log LF HRV.
Conclusion: The study demonstrated varied pattern of responses between vitamin B12 status and LF power of HRV across age groups. Thus, it is important to consider these associations before planning supplementation of vitamin B12.

Evaluation of Audiometric Thresholds and Speech Perception Sentence Test in Adults and Elderly After Cochlear Implantation by Guilherme M. Carvalho, Mariana D.C. F. Santos, Henrique F. Pauna, Alexandre C. Guimar&#227;es, Silvia B. Curi, Daniele Jeronymo, Paulo R.C. Porto, Walter A. Bianchini, Arthur M. Castilho, Edi L. Sartorato (224-228).
Aim: To compare the audiometric thresholds and speech perception sentence test, between two groups with bilateral post-lingual, severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss.
Methods: Retrospective and analytical study, with 59 patients divided into 2 groups (under 60 years and above 60 years old) implanted between May/2002 and February/2007.
Results: The first group (control) included 30 patients with a mean age of 44 years. The audiometric threshold value in this group was 26 dB, and the average value of speech perception test was 94%. The second group included 29 patients with a mean age of 69 years. The average audiometric threshold was 29 dB, and the average value of SPT was 90%. The Mann-Whitney U-test was considered significant (P<0.05) only for 6-8 KHz frequencies and for SPT.
Conclusion: Both groups had excellent outcomes in audiometric and speech testing with the use of CI, but with a significantly better performance in the adult group

Background: The maintenance of mitochondrial membrane potential is essential for cell growth and survival. Mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 plays the most important roles in uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation and decreasing mitochondrial O2- production by regulating the mitochondrial membrane potential. We propose that mouse UCP2 has two glycine-rich motifs, motif 1: EGIRGLWKG (170-178) and a known Walker A-like motif 2: EGPRAFYKG (264-272). These motifs seem to be important for the function of UCP2.
Objective: We investigated the biological effects of overproduced-UCP2 and its physiological consequence in Cos7 cells.
Method: We introduced several amino acid changes in the motif 1. The expression vectors of the green fluorescent protein (GFP)-fused UCP2 and mutant UCP2 were constructed and expressed in Cos7 cells.
Result: The UCP2-GFP-expressed cells significantly down-regulated the mitochondrial membrane potentials and induced the enlarged cell shapes. Next we generated the stably UCP2-GFP-expressed Cos7 cells by selection with the antibiotic Genecitin (G418). Within the first few weeks following G418-selection, the stably UCP2-GFP-expressed cells could not divide well and gradually manifested the irregular and enlarged senescent-like cell morphology. The UCP2/K177E- or UCP2/G174L-expressed cells did not induce the enlarged cell shapes. Hence, UCP2/K177E and UCP2/G174L produced the functional incompetence of the glycine-rich motif 1. The senescent-like cells significantly decreased the mitochondrial membrane potentials and finally died nearly one month.
Conclusion: Overproduction of UCP2 irreversibly reduces the mitochondrial membrane potentials and induces the senescent-like morphology and finally oncotic cell death in Cos7 cells. These changes seem to occur from the irreversible metabolic changes following total loss of cellular ATP.