Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My New Seniors Blog

Currently, I am posting on the Senior Services blog for the Pasco County Library System. You can read my posts here and the RSS feed is here. I also have a new list of interesting articles for older adults, which I have been updating often. These articles can be found on my work del.icio.us account, PCLSlibrarian2. You can click here for the RSS feed for this list.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Older Americans Month 2008

May is "Older American's Month". It was originally called "Senior Citizens Month" by President Kennedy in 1963, but the name was changed to "Older Americans Month" by President Carter in 1980. The Administration on Aging described this month as "... a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country." The Administration on Aging published the theme for this year's celebration: "Working Together for Strong, Healthy, and Supportive Communities". The Administration on Aging has provided the logo above and a nice poster for download. This poster would be great for a display at the library which highlights the accomplishments of older adults:

The U.S. Census Bureau released a fact sheet for Older Americans Month. These facts include:

  • 37.3 million people were 65 and older in the U.S. in 2006
  • There is a projected 147% increase in the 65-and-older population between 2000 and 2050
  • The poverty rate for people 65 and older in 2006 - 9.4%
  • By 2016, the number of people 65 and older in the labor force will reach 10.1 million
  • 7.3 million are taking adult education classes
  • 1.6 million live in nursing homes
  • Charlotte County, Fl has the highest percentage of 65+ at 31.2%

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Reviews for Adult Care Facilities

Medicare's "Nursing Home Compare" provides a way to evaluate nursing homes by providing state inspection information, number of registered nurses, and resident characteristics. This is a very good resource. However, it would be nice to have more information about the facilities and the quality of life for the residents at these facilities.

A recent article by Keosha Johnson in the AARP bulletin discussed a new website called seniorDecision. This website was designed to provide a place for consumer ratings and reviews of assisted living, nursing homes, and home health care companies. I took a look at the site and it has potential for the future. However, right now there are not many reviews. For example, I did not find any reviews of companies in the Tampa area. Perhaps the AARP article will make people more aware of this website and more people will add reviews. It will be interesting to see if this website succeeds in gaining a critical mass of reviews.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My new job!

I am happy to announce that I have just started as a full time Librarian in the Pasco County Library System. I graduated last April with an M.S. in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University and had been working as a part-time reference Librarian in Hillsborough County. I will miss my friends in Hillsborough, but I am very excited about my new position. I may be posting to this blog less than usual for a few weeks, as I adapt to my long commute and new job.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Resources for Intergenerational Programs

While looking through the resources in the Creating Aging Friendly Communities conference, I came across a reference to United Generations Ontario. This non-profit organization is "... dedicated to promoting the effectiveness and efficiency of other registered Canadian charities involved in providing benefits to members of different generations - children, youth, their parents and people of their parents' generation, seniors and other older adults." They provide a free pdf called Connecting Generations Toolkit: Best Practices in Intergenerational Programing.

This toolkit lists the benefits of intergenerational programs, such as:

  • emotional support
  • social role development
  • mental stimulation
  • understanding the needs of other generations

This toolkit also provides tips and recommendations about how to successfully create partnerships with other organizations to provide intergenerational programming. There is also a database of resources. However, the links to many of the websites and pdf files are not working through their search page. Here are some useful resources that I did find through the site:

Intergenerational Programs and Aging - with great program examples, resource links, and research about intergenerational programs (from Penn State University College of Agriculture Sciences).

Strengthening Families and Communities by Sharing Life Stories

Bridging the Gap

Tried and True: A Guide to Successful Intergenerational Activities at Shared Site Programs

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Monday, February 18, 2008

"Creating Aging-Friendly Communities" Conference Begins

The Creating Aging-Friendly Communities online conference website has opened up and the live conference events will be starting this week. For more information about this conference, please see a previous post. I have started to explore the site and have found many policy and research papers available, a list of organizations interested in aging-friendly issues, discussion board areas, and a searchable list of participants to encourage networking. There are several librarians already signed in to the conference, including Allan Kleiman of Senior Spaces and Satia Orange, Director of the Office for Literacy & Outreach Services of the American Library Association. I am glad to see librarians participating and networking at this conference. I will probably be only participating asynchronously, due to my schedule, but I hope to blog about some of the presentations.

Unfortunately, this free conference has had so many people interested, that the organizers have had to limit registrations. However, the organizers have promised that all of the content from the conference will be made available to the general public after the conference.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fighting Stereotypes

In a previous post, I mentioned that we need to consider how we name and market our programs for older adults. Recent articles show that many senior centers are changing their names to avoid using aging labels, in order to be more attractive to older adults. I came across a post about a "senior center" called Vitalize! Wellness Centre. This center describes itself as "... a successful aging center that takes a holistic approach to aging by focusing on the tenets of successful aging: physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and vocational wellness."

This aging center does more than just have a catchy name to attract older adults. It successfully makes its programming intriguing and in doing so, it defies any negative stereotypes about programming for seniors. Their lifelong learning classes are called "hungry mind" classes. Concepts used in their marketing video include empowerment, independence, lifelong learning, community, fun, friends, and purpose.
Here is a Youtube video promoting this wellness center:

"Mather's—More Than a Café" is also "thinking outside the box". These cafes are provided by Mather LifeWays, which is a not-for-profit organization. Here is how they describe the cafés:

“Our Cafés are special places where older adults reenergize, explore, connect, and enjoy.

Reenergize by strength training, practicing tai chi, or taking a yoga class.

Explore the world through lifelong learning adventures and taking line-dancing, piano, pottery, chess, and computer classes. Attend book readings and signings as well as important lectures about identity theft and tax laws. Take a day trip to an exciting area event, like Broadway in Chicago!

Connect with neighbors in your community who sharre mutual interests. Gain free access to area information."

Note that this center provides classes, author signings, a place to socialize, a place to meet people with similar interests, and local information about the area. Libraries are currently providing most or all of these activities and services for older adults. We need to develop successful marketing campaigns - like these created by non-profit organizations - to highlight our services for older adults.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

What is in a name?

When I started this blog, I wanted to come up with a name that would be short and catchy. I realized that the term "older adults" is more widely accepted - for example the American Library Association has a "Services to Older Adults" page. However, I do not feel that there is a negative association to the word "senior" - at least with members of the "Greatest Generation".

Boomers, on the other hand, may not be happy with the term "senior". Recently I have read several articles that state that Boomers are very sensitive about activities and places that are labeled "senior". Allison Rupp wrote an article in the Casper Star Tribune about the trend for senior centers to change their name to better attract Boomers who are in their 50's. In Butler County Ohio, Tiffany Latta (of Hamilton Journal News) wrote that the local "Senior Citizens, Inc." group had changed their name to "Partners in Prime". The idea was to remove the "senior citizen" label, which may have some negative connotations for some older adults.

This idea was discussed by Dave Schleck in a recent Daily Press article. Mr. Schleck quoted author Chuck Underwood, who is the author of "The Generational Imperative: Understanding Generational Differences in the American Workplace, Marketplace, And Living Room."

Here is Chuck Underwood's list of seven words that one should not use in marketing to Boomers:

  • senior
  • retiree
  • aging
  • golden years
  • silver years
  • mature
  • prime time
This is quite a list. We may have to be creative with how we label our programs and how we market them to older adults. I think that "lifelong learning" may be a good term to use to describe library programs for older adults. What do you all think? What terms do you use for older adult programs at your library?

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The Maturing of America Survey

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) partnered with the MetLife Foundation and four other national organizations to survey 10,000 local governments to "determine their “aging readiness” to provide programs, policies and services that address the needs of older adults and their caregivers; to ensure that their communities are “livable” for persons of all ages; and to harness the talent, wisdom, and experience of older adults to contribute to the community at large." (p.1 print, p. 3 pdf). The resulting report is called "The Maturing of America- Getting Communities on Track for an Aging Population" and the pdf file can be downloaded here. (I found this report via the Docuticker Blog).

This report found that only 46% of American communities have begun to prepare for the rapidly increasing numbers of older adults. In fact, most local governments "do not have the policies, programs, or services in place to promote the quality of life and the ability of older adults to live independently and contribute to their communities for as long as possible" (p.1 print, p. 3 pdf). The report listed many areas of concern for "aging readiness", including:

  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Transportation
  • Public Safety
  • Housing
  • Taxation
  • Workforce development/ Lifelong Learning
  • Civic engagement/ Volunteer activities
  • Aging/Human Services
  • Policies/guidelines
The report made recommendations for each category and pointed out that all these issues must be looked at holistically. For example, it does no good to plan senior housing in a particular area, if there is no transportation available for seniors at that area to get to the food store or to the doctor's office.

What does this have to do with libraries?
First of all, this report only mentioned libraries once - as a place where older adults volunteer. It does not mention that libraries are an ideal place for lifelong learning and that many libraries provide free computer training. It does not mention libraries as a source of information about health, successful aging, or e-government resources. There is no mention at all in the article about the overall information needs of older adults, except a call for "... the development of a single point of entry for information and access to all aging services" (p. 4 of print and p. 6 of pdf). Perhaps libraries can offer help in setting up a portal for all the local aging services? Alternatively, libraries can introduce our patrons to this portal and link to it from our website.

In the section on transportation, the study mentions that "Reduced mobility can put an older person at risk of poor health, isolation, and loneliness." (p. 9 in print and p. 11 of pdf). The survey question about public transportation lists the following places: senior centers, adult day care services, grocery stores, faith communities, and cultural events. There is no mention of public transit availability to libraries. We may need to lobby for public transportation to our libraries.

It seems clear that many of the aging services stakeholders are not thinking about libraries - either as a resource for older adults or as a community social destination for older adults. As local government agencies begin to plan for the future, librarians will need to remind them that we are here for older adults - to provide information, technology training, lifelong learning programing, and as a community center for social interaction and volunteering. In addition, we should find ways to partner with local aging services, so that we can create services that neither agency alone could provide.

Certainly we can take an idea from UPS and ask these agencies "What can libraries do for you?" We certainly should show other government agencies what we have to offer - our meeting rooms, programming, staff expertise, ability to outreach to older adults, etc. We need to be a part of the planning process and to increase our visibility.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

How to Find Caregiver Support Programs by State

The Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) has recently created a database for publicly-funded caregiver support programs. This database is called "Caregiving across the States" and it can be accessed by clicking one's state on a map or by choosing the state from a drop down menu. The information includes details about specific caregiving programs, including eligibility requirements, the geographic regions served by the programs, and the services provided by each program. For example, program services may include assistive technology, caregiver training, supplies, counseling, homemaker assistance, and respite care. In addition, there is a wealth of statistical information about caregivers and the cost of caregiving in each state. The Florida information is here.

The Family Caregiver Alliance is a community-based nonprofit organization. The FCA website is a great resource for older adults and for caregivers. There are useful fact sheets in English, Spanish, and Chinese; research reports; caregiving advice; and links to online support groups.

(Found via a post from the excellent Minding Our Elders blog, written by Carol Bradley Bursack)

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