This Week in Elder News: 3 May 2008
Elderblogger Survey - Part 2

Elderblogger Survey - Part 1

The results are in and I’ve spent the weekend creating cute little graphs for each question. They will be posted during most of this week in small groupings of questions so we don't succumb to information overload and can have a sensible discussion about what we’ve discovered.

We start today with Personal Data. Each question precedes any commentary I have and the graph of the results. 402 people took the entire survey; 400 answered these questions unless otherwise noted.

Here are some things to keep in mind about the Survey:
  • It is not balanced against the general population

  • It is not balanced against even the elder population

  • Respondents are self-selected, so not a representative sample

  • Therefore, the survey has no statistical validity

Nevertheless, because the survey was distributed mostly among elderbloggers themselves and other elders who read blogs, we can get a bit of an idea of who we are and what we are like. So…

According to the survey, the average elderblogger or elder blog reader who participated is a healthy, white, 60-something woman who is well educated, married or living with her first spouse or partner, has two children, a couple of grandchildren, drives a car and taught herself how to use a computer. Here are the details:

1. What is your gender?
When I’ve been asked what the male-to-female ratio of TGB readers is, I’ve guessed at about 20 percent men and look at this. How clever of me.


2. What is your ethnicity?
We are overwhelming white, except for one joker who wrote in “humankind,” so I included him or her with mixed ancestry.


3. How old are you?


4. What is your level of education?
We are a remarkably well-educated group. A majority of 65.3 percent hold undergraduate and graduate degrees, which is a little intimidating to this high school graduate.


5. What is your marital status?


6. How many times have you been married?


7. How many children do you have?


8. How many grandchildren do you have?


9. Do you have great grandchildren?


10. Do you have have any chronic illnesses or other health problems that limit or restrict your mobility?


11. If you answered yes to question 10, how do health problems limit your mobility or restrict you in other ways?
Ninety of 400 respondents to Question 10 left messages about how their health limits their lives. There is a total of more than 20 infirmities, which doesn’t lend itself to a graph since so many answers were one-of-a-kind. Here are some of the answers:

  • 25 live with arthritis of several types

  • 13 live with knee and other joint problems

  • 7 live with fatigue and weakness

  • 5 live with heart disease

  • 4 live with COPD, emphysema, other lung problems

  • 3 live with the results of stroke

  • 3 live with asthma

  • 3 live with chronic pain

  • 3 live with diabetes

  • 2 live with fibromyalgia

Other conditions reported by single individuals include multiple sclerosis, cancer, seizures, migraines, kidney disease, depression and hearing loss.

12. Do you drive a car?


28. How did you learn to use a computer?
Close to 50 percent of 390 who answered this question taught themselves how to use a computer. When you realize that, unlike today's teenagers and young adults who were born clutching a tiny computer mouse, and that elders were confronted with computers in mid- or late-life, that is an astonishing number. Don't forget how confusing and overwhelming computers are at first. I don’t ever want to hear again from the media that elders are technology-phobic.


Tomorrow, we’ll look at our housing arrangements, employment and financial condition.

The Elderblogger Survey - Part 2
The Elderblogger Survey - Part 3
The Elderblogger Survey - Part 4
The Elderblogger Survey - Part 5

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, the first in our week-long series of Mother’s Day stories, Mama’s Sayings.]


Please don't feel intimidated by college degrees. Life experience and a desire to learn levels that particular playing field. I know several college educated dunces, and a number of high school graduates with a lifelong habit of learning that serves them well.

Even though, at this point in time you can not use the results of the survey for statistical validity, if you do another survey in a two years time, maybe there is some way of making a comparative study. If I had answered your survey two or three years ago, many of my answers would have been different. Who knows what my answers will be like in the future.

One slight point of misunderstanding: when you asked whether you drive a car, I thought you meant do I drive a car occasionally. I believe you meant whether I own and drive a car. Perhaps in the States everyone who drives a car owns a car, but in other countries it is not always so.

Great survey. And I'm surprised at the answers. I was really hoping for a more ethnically diverse group. Maybe next time. Could be some overlap on the answers to 'How did you learn to use a computer'...I was given one to use at work, but realized that I needed one at home if I was going to learn at the pace I wanted. (I think a Toshiba portable weighed about 40 pounds at that time, so that wasn't any solution.) I bought a pc and learned at home and practiced at work. My answer was still self taught.


I was unclear. In the past, we've discussed the issue of elders giving up driving at some point and the loss of freedom that entails. That's what I was going for - have you given up driving due to age.


That question about how you learned to use a computer was subjective. A lot of us, like you, learned at work and at home, but were primarily teaching ourselves. But I know a number of people who were given formal classes at work.

I was truly surprised on the results on a lot of the areas of this survey. For some reason I thought I would be in the majority.
I was not.
Most projects I have approached in the past I was successful.
But I am beginning to become disacouraged with my new blog and image posting challenge.
I feel I am making slow slow progress.
The thought comes to mind recently just to quit.
I looked at this new blog as a new learning experience and an opportunity to journal much of my past.
I may never be good enough to be listed on your list of bloggers.

I'm off to the dentist, but I've skimmed it and find it fascinating! I'll be back.

Great job! It must have been a lot of work.

So few men. I wasn't surprised but I wish there were more.


At first I had the same thought about the numbers. Then I realized what the numbers really mean: guys like us get to spend a lot of our online time in the company of fascinating and articulate women.

If other guys haven't put this together, to hell with them!


Great observation!

Pete - what a loveable ham you are!


The study results are surprising to me as well in a number of categories. Odd to me, given the US's penchant for divorce, is the number of participants who are in the once-married column. And likewise the 50% percentage without grandkids.

Me? I'm repopulating the world...

I'm so glad you did the survey!!! I've been on a long trip so am just now catching up and missed doing the survey but think, according to the answers you've printed,I'm right w/the averages you have.

This is fascinating and the graphs are just great. As a never married and never had children 50+ I am amazed at the numbers of those similar. I have felt somewhat "odd" for a long time as I see my piers married and with children. It is not too late for me - she says full of hope!
Thanks for presenting this.

Regarding how few men in the survey, I have a couple of theories about that:

1. I think men are more likely to keep blogs on sports, politics and business and therefore think of themselves in those categories and not as elderbloggers, and they probably don't look for age-relative bloggers.

2. Until about a year ago for nearly a year, I also blogged at BlogHer. I stopped because I was being invited to join a lot of online women's groups while also seeing TGB described as being for older WOMEN, which was never my intention.

TGB is about aging in general and although I sometimes address issues relating mostly to women or to men when appropriate, it is meant to be gender-neutral - as much as it can be, written by a woman.

I don't know if I'm right, but these two explanations make some sense to me.

Fascinating. I am surprised by the relatively large number, nearly a quarter, without children. I think I'll do a little census research -- see if I can figure out what percentage of U.S. adults over 50 don't have children. Instinctively I find this high, but perhaps not. And perhaps the sample is not as heavily from the U.S. as I'm assuming...

I was pleased to see that so many took the time to answer the questions.

I think many people still don't know how to find BLOGS that are interesting enough to get in their mailboxes daily. I don't even remember how I was led to TGB, but thankfully, the topic that day was interesting enough to keep me coming back. I actually believe it was the storyy of the death of Ronni's Mom.

A class at a senior center taught me some basics afterwards I learned to use the internet on my own....trial & error...

It is surprising how many once-married people were included in the survey. Perhaps it reflects on economics. Perhaps there is an economic advantage to being once-married?

There may be more of us living with our first spouses than showed up in the survey. Some of us married the same spouse more than once!

Well done you Ronni for collating all the answers and producing such a clear set of results - and they really are thought provoking. I'm off now to read Part Two.

Ronni - you are amazing....very interesting

Hey Ronni:

While your intent is to be appealing to both elderblogger genders, I noticed all the pictures on your top page are female: perhaps that visual might discourage some males?... & when I forwarded the survey to interested friends, I mistakenly called it for females myself.

I like the comment from Pete & friends!

Thanks, ~Kathi

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