Friday, August 31, 2007

Recommended Alzheimer's Caregiving Blogs

The GenBetween blog mentioned the top Alzheimer's site awards given by stated that these websites are

"the best of the Internet's sites dedicated to Alzheimer's and dementia as determined by our expert team. These sites include small Web sites and individual blogs and were chosen based on their candid and informative content."

The award winners were:
This site is aimed at caregivers and the sandwich generation. In addition to the blog posts,there is an extensive resource list for caregivers in the sidebar. The author, Carol Bradley Bursack, also wrote abook called Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories.

The purpose of this blog is to provide "tips, newsbites, product reviews, and people in the news for professional and family caregivers who want to keep up with the world of dementia care". It is written by a nursing home administrator, who is the author of two books: "Nurturing Nuggets For Dementia Caregivers: 25 Supportive Strategies In Caring For Persons With Dementia" and "Nurturing Nuggets For Nurses".

This blog is written by Jack Halpern, a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, who is an advocate for the elderly who live in nursing homes.
This blog, by CK Wilde, is about the challenge of trying to provide long distance caregiving to her dad, who is in a retirement community. She writes about what she has learned and often provides useful resources for her readers.

This is a blog written by a woman who takes care of her father who has Alzheimers Disease.

Librarians can recommend these blogs to patrons who are looking for more personal information about caring for family members with Alzheimer's disease. Many of these blogs allow comments and thus give readers a chance to ask questions of the writer, to commiserate, and to share stories and tips. These blogs make a nice addition to more formal Alzheimer's information from the Alzheimer's Association and the MedlinePlus page on Alzheimer's. I also recommend the Medical News Today Alzheimer's/Dementia News, which has a link on this page to add their news articles as a feed to your newsreader (two popular newsreaders are Bloglines and Google reader).

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Monday, August 27, 2007

"Lifelong Partners in Reading" Program

Palm Harbor Library in Florida has started a new outreach program for local residents in assisted living facilities. The program is called "Lifelong Partners in Reading". The library is recruiting high school students and adults who will read magazines, newspapers, etc. for older adults who can no longer read. Many high school students are looking for ways to volunteer to complete requirements for National Honor Society or for scholarships. The are many potential benefits to this program: it is a great way to increase teen participation in library activities, it could lead to partnerships with local assisted living residences, and it could improve intergenerational communication and understanding. Having someone read to a resident does more than just allow that resident to enjoy the newspaper, it also gives the resident someone to talk to. I think that the social aspect of this program could mean a lot to the participants.

The August 2007 Florida Library Association News Digest described this program (this digest is subscription only). Also, there was a recent Clearwater Gazette article about this program.

Note to Readers:
I am always looking for information about successful library programs for older adults - to describe and discuss on this blog. If you would like to share a story about such a program, or point me to an interesting resource for older adults, please leave a comment or email me (the link is on the profile page of this blog).

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Senior Expos

Jill Webster, from the Nova Scotia Provincial Library, told me about a great way to market your library services to older adults. This group mans a booth promoting library services at local senior expos or 50+ expos. Libraries can showcase their older adult programing, including book discussions, computer classes, art classes, genealogy classes, gardening classes, etc.

Some of the companies providing expos to seniors in Florida include Florida Senior Expo, run by Expo Marketing Inc. and the Senior Fun Fests run by Senior Connection & Mature Lifestyles magazines. One drawback is that the booths are expensive at these events. For example, a booth at a local senior expo in the Tampa bay area costs from $745. to $850. On the bright side, this is for a booth at a large two day expo, which draws approximately 20,000 older adults. Perhaps your local "Friends of the Library" group could provide funds for a booth.

Of course, outreach to older adults can be included in general outreach activities, such as when libraries participate in local festivals and local social service neighborhood events. For example in my area, our library has had a booth at the Apollo Beach Manatee Arts festival and at the Ruskin Tomato festival. This is a much lower cost alternative, since the library may not have to pay for a booth. Costs will include staff time, promotional flyers, and booth decorations. In addition, the library may have to provide a tent and/or a table and chairs for local festivals.

Jill Webster is also a member of the Nova Scotia Working Group on Services to Older Adults, which has a very nice blog called Services for Older Adults in NS Libraries, which is listed on my blogroll.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Netguides Program

Andrea Mercado introduced me to a great new service for older adults provided by the Reading Public Library of Reading, Massachusetts. Netguides matches students who have been trained by the library with patrons who want one-on-one computer tutorials. Topics include basic computing, introduction to the internet, email, online databases, and Microsoft office applications. Sessions are one hour, by appointment. This program is in addition to their regular computer classes.

This is wonderful for people who may lack confidence in learning how to use a computer. Participants can get their questions answered and get special attention, which they would not be able to get in a large computer class. The program uses student volunteers. This gives an intergenerational aspect to the program.

By organizing volunteers this way, one can provide this one-on-one help for patrons, even if you don't have a lot of staff time. For more specific information on how to implement this program, please see "Netguides lessons learned and class changes" by Andrea Mercado from her Library Techtonics blog.

If your library is planning to start such a program, I suggest that one consider recruiting technology savvy older adults to volunteer for such a program, in addition to the student volunteers. Some older adults may feel more comfortable with tutors who are in their own age group.

Note: Photo of Reading Public Library and Librarians via Myspace photos.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

How accessible is your library?

How accessible is your library for older adults and the disabled? One way to test the accessibility is to borrow a wheelchair and try to navigate through the stacks and around the entire building. While in the chair, you can notice anything that may be a problem.

For example, if your circulation desk is very high, it is hard for a person in a wheelchair to hand books to the checkout person. If that is the case, it helps to add a lower counter which is equipped with a checkout computer and scanner. If it is not possible to add another desk, another idea is to add a scanner to the reference desk, so that the reference librarian can checkout books for people in wheelchairs. I have worked in a library that used this idea and it worked very well.

One thing that we can learn from grocery stores is to help people by providing wheelchairs or Amigo shopping cart/scooters for their use. If the library is small, or does not have the funds to buy these items, there are still ways to make it easier for older adults with limited mobility.

First, the large print section can be located close to the entrance. I also believe that separating paperback books into genre sections - westerns, romances, mysteries, and science fiction/fantasy is a good idea. This can significantly decrease the time that is needed by the patron to find the kind of books that he wants. If this grouping of paperbacks is not possible, I recommend using genre stickers on the spines of paperbacks, so that people can spot the books that they are looking for in less time. For many older adults, this is not just a convenience, it is a necessity, because they can not spend a long time standing.

I have heard from many people, who use a cane or walker, that they can't take the time to browse for books like they used to when they had better mobility. I encourage reference librarians to "rove" the library and offer reader's advisory to people who have limited mobility. You can also offer to place books on hold for them. Many older adults do not know that we can do this for them - or they do not approach the librarian because they don't want to impose on them.

A Medical News Today article highlighted a European firm which is designing furniture for the elderly. At my library, I have talked to people who have a lot of trouble getting into and out of chairs, due to arthritis and other conditions that decrease their mobility. I think that libraries should consider adding at least a few chairs that are designed to be easier for older people to use.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

"Growing Older in America" Study

ResourceShelf reported the release of an excellent new study by the National Institute on Aging, called Growing Older in America: the Health and Retirement Study. The preface to this study states:

“There is no question that the aging of America will have a profound impact on individuals, families, and U.S. society. At no time has the need to examine and understand the antecedents and course of retirement been greater than now, as the baby boom begins to turn age 65 in 2011.”
This study shows trends in the health, economic status, retirement, income, and family characteristics of older adults. Here are a few of the interesting findings:
  • "Health varies by socioeconomic status. One study found that the pattern of disease at age 50 for people with less than a high school education is similar to that at age 60 for people with college degrees."
  • "White Americans ages 55 to 64 are less healthy than their British counterparts, despite higher overall incomes and higher levels of health care spending."

  • "Although retirement rates rise steeply at the social security eligibility ages of 62 - 65, many older people do remain in the workforce, either full-time or part-time."
  • "There are enormous economic costs of providing informal caregiving to people with chronic health conditions. Analyses suggest that devoting time to informal care of older parents may be incompatible with having a full-time job in middle age."
  • "There is an association between family status and well-being. Marriage, in particular, is associated with better economic status, fewer self-reported symptoms of depression, and health advantages across a broad spectrum of chronic disease conditions, functional problems, and disabilities."

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Library Journal series on Older Adults

In the July issue of Library Journal, Beth Dempsey wrote about the Boomer generation, their attitudes and their needs. She highlighted the importance of marketing to this age group. Boomers will need information about retirement planning and health information. Also, since the Baby Boomers have such a high divorce rate, Ms. Dempsey noted that this means that there will be a higher number of older single women. This is significant because this demographic has the greatest risk for poverty. Libraries can help women at risk for poverty by providing internet access, computer training, help with finding job training, and information about local social service agencies and programs.
Ms. Dempsey also pointed out how Boomers can be an asset to their library through their volunteer work, their connections to other community organizations, their voting power, and their potential fundraising ability. I think that it is great that Library Journal is starting to provide articles about older adults and marketing to older adults. I hope that they will also look into the specific needs of the Greatest Generation (1911-1924) and the Silent Generation (1925 -1942).

See also the post about this article in the Active, Engaged, Valued: Older People and Public Libraries blog.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Senior Spaces Project

The Old Bridge Public Library in New Jersey recently created a special Senior Spaces section of the library by renovating one section of the library. This renovation was funded by a grant from the NJ INFOLINK Regional Library Cooperative. Allan Kleiman, the project manager, has posted a flyer describing specific features of the space which are targeted to older adults. I will be commenting on the features of the project in an upcoming post.

___________________Photo of Allan Keiman during construction of Senior Spaces

Mr. Kleiman has been active in the Aging Population Committee of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) section of the American Library Association for over 30 years. He authors two blogs - one about the Senior Spaces project and a personal blog - Library Services to Boomers & Older Adults. He is also looking for speakers for a program at next year's International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) conference in Canada. The program title is "Serving Older Adults: 6 Countries - 6 Perspectives". He currently has found speakers representing Canada and the United States, but he is looking for speakers from other countries. Mr. Kleiman's contact information can be found on his Senior Spaces Blog. This program sounds very interesting. Some countries are anticipating an even higher rate of population aging than we will see in the United States. We could learn how librarians across the world are planning to meet the needs of their older adult population.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Recent ALA Conference programs about older adults

Frederick J. Augustyn Jr. summarized some of the annual conference presentations concerning older adult services in the highlights issue of the American Library Association ALACognotes newspaper (p. 4) . He wrote about two programs. First, the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services sponsored "Senior Sizzle: Library links with Seniors". This presentation discussed how the Plano Public Library System created the Library Links with Seniors program. This program organizes volunteers to present programs to seniors at nursing homes and assisted living residences. This is a great example of how libraries can make a difference, even if they do not have a lot of money or enough staff to provide outreach programs to local senior care residences.
Next, the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) sponsored a program on recent aging research. This program highlighted the positive aspects of aging. For example, "pragmatic creativity" increases in older adults.

I found that the speaker, Gene D. Cohen, has written a book about this topic called the Mature Mind. In addition, Gene Cohen has started the Sea Change Program to educate young people about the positive aspects of aging and the potential of older adults. The importance of this potential is described as follows:

"Accessing one’s potential in later life has broad ramifications, not only for quality of life, but for health and longevity, as demonstrated in the growing number of studies demonstrating positive health outcomes in those who was socially active and productive as older adults. Early awareness and planning for one’s social portfolio in later life is just as important as staying physically fit and planning when young for a financial portfolio."

We can contribute as librarians by learning about the positive aspects of aging and by perpetuating positive attitudes toward the aging process and toward older adults. We can encourage older adults to volunteer in our community and respect them for their contributions.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Online Memory Game Links

Mount Prospect Public Library in Illinois provides a great list of links to online memory games. They also include links to articles about memory enhancement techniques and the benefits of exercising your brain. This kind of list would be a great addition to any library web page that provides resources for older adults.

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