Archive for December, 2007

Developing Brain Reserves

Brain

The issue of brain health and older adults continues to be a hot topic at national conferences, in TV news magazines, on blogs and in print.  This latest article, “Mental Reserves Keep Brain Agile” in the New York Times focuses on the activities necessary to promote brain health even in the face of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  The article features case studies of older adults whose autopsies revealed severe brain abnormalities, yet were active and mentally agile older adults in their day-to-day lives.  The key for these individuals was building mental reserves and mental pathways in order to limit the amount of damage that brain disease could effect. While providing solutions and suggestions for building the brain reserves necessary to maintain brain health (even mentioning the public library as a place for stimulating brain activity), the article also focuses on the physical activity necessary to bolster activities such as puzzles and new language acquisition.  The importance of physical activity to brain health is often absent from the typical brain health discussions.

 These issues of brain reserves, brain activity, and physical activity have been discussed in several Libraries for the Future Lifelong Access Libraries trainings.  Most recently, Dr. Paul Nussbaum presented on this topic at the Transforming Life after 50 Institute – a product of the partnership between the California State Library, the California Library Association, and Libraries for the Future.  The Institute was one element of the larger Transforming Life after 50 Initiative which was launched this summer.  Links to video clips and resources from the Institute will be available soon and posted on this blog –stay tuned.

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December 14, 2007 at 10:35 pm 1 comment

Wii, TeeBeeDee, and other Tech Tools for Older Adults

librarytech3.jpg 

The recent news has been flooded with information on the latest technology tools and websites being used by, or marketed to, older adults.  Of particular interest are social networking sites and video games.

While most people are familiar with social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook — favored amongst Gen X and Y — a recent MSN article, Niche Social Networks Vie for Attention, featured social networking sites for all ages and social groups.  Two sites geared towards Baby Boomers and older adults are TeeBeeDee, launched by Parenting magazine’s founder Robin Wolaner, and Eons, launched by former Monster.com executive Jeffery Taylor.  Both sites boast membership numbers in the tens of thousands, with celebrity member profiles such as Barack Obama.

These sites may pose a counterpoint to the youth focuses social sites, but some libraries have chosen to cross age barriers when delving into new technology.  Old Bridge Public Library in New Jersey was recently featured in an article for their intergenerational program which uses Nintendo’s Wii  Bowling and the latest gaming sensation Guitar Hero.  The article, “Old Bridge Library Unites Generations” relates how these interactive games have both provided socializing across generations and opened up avenues for older adult to simultaneously return to old hobbies and learn new technology.  A similar article in USA Today article, “Tech Giants Target Boomers — and Their Cash” notes how the Wii has been used in other locations such as senior centers and, amongst other innovative technologies, is on the rise in personal purchases among Boomers.

These new possibilities may open up doors for innovative library programs, diversified computer and technology courses, and deeper social connections.  How has your library used these tools? Or what new ideas has this information has produced for your library?  Do you feel that these programs and sites would be successful among the older adults in your community?

December 5, 2007 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment


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