As usual we have some valuable papers for those of you who work in the area of family and consumer sciences. These papers describe applied research, programs, processes, lessons learned and more for the intrepid learner. There are three papers focusing on financial matters and two papers focusing on physical fitness and health.

Even though financial matters are extremely important to health and wellness, many people find it difficult to make the best decisions based on their personal health and financial situation.  Consumer decision making issues for obtaining appropriate health care are highlighted by the paper, Effective Case Studies: Making a Smart Choice Health Insurance©Decision.  This paper describes a program that increases participant knowledge in health insurance literacy.  It also provides a case study that teaches various skills, introduces pertinent information that many consumers will need to understand as they compare and analyze available plans, and offers guidance concerning the process.

Another financial paper, Behavioral and Coaching Strategies in Individual Development Accounts:Insights and Lessons Applicable to Other Financial Capability Programs, discusses individual development accounts (IDAs) and the education program that accompanies them.  The purpose of this paper is not to provide evaluation outcomes but to describe eight coaching elements and processes used in the IDA program that can be used in the delivery of other financial capability trainings. The idea of creating a partnership for funding financial education programs is presented. Extension educators can leverage their efforts by partnering with others, including public and private institutions.

The final financial paper, Reverse Mortgages and Downsizing: Education for Retirement Success, describes how a homeowner can use a reverse mortgage to increase available assets in the retirement years.  The authors have attempted to present a balanced approach, albeit briefly, to both the positive and the negative sides to using reverse mortgages.  Since the reverse mortgage guidelines have been revised recently the authors stress the need for available accurate and current consumer information.  This paper will hopefully encourage Extension educators to address this issue.

Getting women to commit to daily exercise is often difficult. This is even more problematic when working with older, low-income, rural women.  However, it can be done.  The paper, Older Women as a Resource for Engaging Rural Community Members in Walking Groups, describes the delivery and evaluation of a community-based social support program used to increase physical activity among women in West Virginia. It points out the issue of isolation and inactivity for older women and stresses the need for group walking programs.  It also includes lessons learned and adaptations made that give this approach the potential for use in many different settings.

The second physical fitness paper, Results of a Community-based Strength Training Program for Women, points out that even though strength training is extremely important for the health of our nation only 24 percent of American adults meet strength-training recommendations. It also notes that fewer women than men participate in strength training and furthermore, involvement decreases with age. This paper discusses the success of the strength-training program, Strong Women Stay Young TM, which resulted in increasing arm and leg strength.

As always, it is my hope that you will read the articles, apply the information to your lives personally and professionally, and enjoy the experience.

Jacquelyn W. McClelland, Ph.D.

Editor-In-Chief, FFCI



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