Underutilized Treasure Troves
Libraries empower older adults to stay connected. In our digital world, it is easy to think of libraries as antiquated things of the past, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Libraries have always been a valuable resource for all ages, but they are especially empowering for older adults. Most avid readers understand the magic that exists at any local library, but even older adults who don’t read often can benefit from regular library visits. Today’s libraries offer far more for patrons of all ages than enjoying the latest fiction book or learning something new. Engaging with a local library can help older adults lead more fulfilling lives. Here are just a few ways libraries are filling the gap.:
It’s no secret that older adults are at an increased risk for loneliness and social isolation. Some of the most common contributing factors include living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss, to name just a few. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) points out that loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. Additionally, social isolation was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia. Libraries provide a welcoming and inclusive space for older adults to connect with others and engage in social activities lessening social isolation.
Intergenerational relationships are beneficial for everyone! In fact, 92% of Americans believe intergenerational activities can help reduce loneliness across all ages. Libraries offer a range of programs and activities that bring together different generations, promoting understanding and respect. Programs can provide people of all ages opportunities to try new activities, explore new hobbies, and learn new skills. Older adults can share their wisdom and life experiences with younger generations, while also learning new things and adapting to changing technologies and cultural norms. This type of interaction helps to break down age-related stereotypes and provides opportunities for meaningful conversations and learning experiences.
Accessibility and Inclusiveness
Although an in-person visit to the library is ideal, some people may have limitations that prevent a physical visit. Libraries have made so many changes in recent years to become more accessible both in-person and virtually. For those who may have physical or cognitive limitations, libraries offer a variety of accommodations such as audiobooks, large print books, and digital resources. Libraries are also offering virtual programs and events, making it easier for older adults to stay connected from the comfort of their own homes.
Programs for Older Adults (and their families!)
Libraries offer a variety of programs and resources specifically for older adults, including exercise classes, book clubs, and technology classes. Many libraries also provide resources for families, including genealogy workshops, technology assistance, and support for caregivers. For those who are comfortable accessing programs virtually, there are so many online libraries accessible to all. We love the Digital Public Library of America. Especially their Lifelong Learning tab!
Revisiting Fond Memories
Have you ever noticed that for older adults experiencing cognitive decline, music from their younger years brings them to life? Taking a stroll down memory lane can be a wonderful way to connect with the past, sparking new memories and emotions. Libraries provide a wealth of books, audiobooks, and other resources that can help older adults revisit fond memories and relive their favorite stories.
Reconnect With the Library
Whether you’re looking to overcome social isolation, engage in intergenerational activities, or explore new hobbies and interests, the library has something for everyone. So why not engage with your library and discover what it has to offer for the whole family?
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