A Revised Look at Changing Seasons: A Q&A with author Denise L. Calhoun

Purdue University Press spoke with author Denise L. Calhoun about the revised edition of her book, Changing Seasons: A Language Arts Curriculum for Healthy Aging.

Q: Could you give a brief description of your book?

Changing Seasons: A Language Arts Curriculum for Healthy Aging is a language based interdisciplinary program with a focus on promoting enhanced communication skills and engaging interactions among older adults. Whether you are an educator, researcher, practitioner, or a health care professional, this book serves as an inspirational guide to ensure quality of life for older loved ones. Featuring step-by-step lesson plans to encourage individuals to speak, think, and write in fun and creative ways, Changing Seasons sparks imagination and engagement with others.

Q: What is the original goal of your book?

Because language influences cognition, and vice versa, the original goal of this book was to increase communicative interaction among older adults in care homes.

Q: What motivated you to write it?

I was motivated to write this book because of issues of miscommunication occurring with my mom and caregivers when she needed 24/7 care.

Q: Did your goals and motivations change for the revised edition?

My goals and motivation did not change for the revised edition. They were, in fact, magnified. Due to pandemic restrictions, it became apparent that social isolation was causing more harm to older adults than the actual COVID-19 virus. Many older adults appeared to be rapidly declining both physically and mentally during these unprecedent times.  

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what’s new in this edition?

To address social isolation, I felt a need to provide other ways to help older loved ones connect to society. In this regard, I conducted a pilot study teaching older adults how to navigate Zoom and make connections to family and friends. 10 lessons over a course of five weeks were developed and implemented, integrating technology and ideas from the first edition of Changing Seasons.

Q: What’s been added?

A new chapter was added outlining basic steps and functions to teach older adults how to use technology with confidence. The chapter includes teaching strategies, key technology terms, video technology training, including sample online interactive lessons and ideas for checking for understanding as well as challenges that may occur. Other changes included updating the glossary, resources, and the appendix with additional graphics, photos, and worksheets.

Q: Has anything been removed?

Nothing has been removed from the original edition.

Q: What about these changes was important enough to release a revised edition of the book?

The changes added granularity to how adults learn and the importance of staying connected to our older loved ones.

Q: Is there anything that shocked or surprised you while working on this project?

Yes! In approaching the topic of technology training with patience and a positive attitude, providing constant encouragement, I was amazed at how receptive and excited our participants were about learning technology. After thinking about it for a while, my colleague and I concluded that it was more about the experience of connecting with others than the actual process of learning technology that motivated them. Considering this realization and the fact that we live in a digital world that is rapidly changing daily, staying connected to society underscores the importance of sustaining quality of life as we and those we love age.

You can get 30% off Changing Seasons: A Language Arts Curriculum for Healthy Aging, Revised Edition and any other Purdue University Press book by ordering from our website and using the code PURDUE30 at checkout.