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NIHSeniorHealth.gov marks 10 years as health resource for older adults

May 14, 2014


Website was early model for senior-friendly design

Logo: 'NIHSeniorHealth.gov, built with you in mind'

NIHSeniorHealth, a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine, offers health and wellness information for older adults.

NIHSeniorHealth.gov, the premier federal health and wellness website for older adults from the NIH, celebrated its 10th anniversary in October 2013. Jointly developed by the NIA and the National Library of Medicine, NIHSeniorHealth pioneered the development of senior-friendly web design when it launched in 2003. Using NIA-funded cognitive aging and vision research along with results from focus group and usability tests, developers designed a website especially tailored to the needs of adults 60+.

According to the Pew Research Center, health information is one of the key topics that older adults search for online. By pairing authoritative health information with an easy-to-use design, NIHSeniorHealth uniquely positioned itself to serve a population increasingly interested in health issues but unfamiliar with how to access this information on the Internet.

A range of senior-friendly features has made NIHSeniorHealth particularly easy for older adults to use. Large type and high color contrast schemes help with vision issues, plain language and chunking of content facilitate comprehension, and consistent page layouts and placement of buttons and prompts make for easy navigation.

Older adult reading senior-friendly content on computer

Special features on the NIHSeniorHealth website make it simple for old adults to use. For example, you can click on a button to make the type larger.

The content is geared toward the health interests of people 60 and older, too. Visitors to the site will find information on healthy aging and ways to prevent and treat aging-related diseases, as well as tips on medical care and personal safety. To accommodate the different ways older adults assimilate information, NIHSeniorHealth presents its content in a variety of formats, including background information, quizzes, videos, and frequently asked questions. NIHSeniorHealth relies on NIH’s institutes and centers for its content, and to date, 16 have contributed more than 60 topics to the site.

Innovations over the years have included updates to the look and feel of the site and the development of a trainer’s toolkit to help older adults learn to find additional reliable online health information on their own.

In 2012, a revitalized NIHSeniorHealth was introduced. With a new design and updated approach, the site is now enhanced, for both the novice computer user and those who over the last decade have gained some experience searching for materials online. A search function now allows users access to age-related health information from a variety of reputable websites, and a “share” button lets them more easily send information from NIHSeniorHealth to their friends and families.    

Today, NIHSeniorHealth is reaching out to a broader audience to address the interests of web-savvy baby boomers looking for health information. Twice a week, Healthy Aging Tips are sent out to a growing subscriber base, and NIHSeniorHealth will soon launch its own YouTube channel, opening up many of its 150 videos to a wider audience. To stay current with the changing needs and expectations of web users, NIHSeniorHealth will incorporate more links to other government agencies on its pages and will debut new interactive features, beginning with its upcoming topic, Quitting Smoking for Older Adults.

To learn more, watch these videos about NIHSeniorHealth:

“Introducing NIHSeniorHealth” (2003)

“Introducing the Toolkit” (2007)

“Healthy Eyes Topic on NIHSeniorHealth” (2013)

“Complementary Health Approaches on NIHSeniorHealth” (2013)

Visit NIHSeniorHealth at www.nihseniorhealth.gov.

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