New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute–Winding Down and Moving Forward

December 23, 2008 at 7:26 pm Leave a comment

The Institute continued with two speakers who discussed health-related topics.  For the slide presentations, head to the Institute website here.

First,  Dr. Margie E. Lachman, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology & Lifespan Lab at Brandeis University, shared recent findings in the area of cognitive and physical changes as we age. As you could probably guess, she gave us both good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news over with first– yes, aging does bring declines in both physical and cognitive health. Now, the good news– the declines can be minimized or even compensated for by increasing our protective factors. The factors which protect against physical declines are: getting a good education; having a high sense of control; reducing stress and anxiety; exercising regularly; receiving social support; not smoking; and maintaining a favorable waist to hip ratio. The factors which protect against cognitive decline are: getting a good education (even if you get it later in life); having a high sense of control; reducing stress and anxiety; exercising regularly; staying socially engaged; and engaging in cognitively stimulating activities. Dr. Lachman pointed out that it is never too early, and never too late, to develop these protective factors. And she passed on yet some more good news–psychological health, wisdom and problem-solving ability increase as we get older.  Dr. Lachman whetted our appetite for the classics by dropping a quote from Cicero–his advice to Cato on old age, p. 46: “resist old age. . .fight against it as we would fight against disease. . .much greater care is due to the mind and soul; for they too, like lamps, grow dim with time unless we keep them supplied with oil.”  How true.

Michelle Eberle, Consumer Health Information Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), New England Region, spoke next and began by reminding us any library which provides health information can become an NNLM affiliate, which makes a library eligible to apply for grants from the NNLM. She advised us to check out the NIH Senior Health site which is super user-friendly and has abundant accessibility features.

Carol Greenfield, President of Discovering What’s Next®, introduced us to the non-profit organization which she founded to change how we think about aging, while engaging mid-life and older adults in creatively exploring their next life stage. Lofty goals, but it’s easy to see how adroitly they’re accomplishing them. They use volunteers with talent, energy and ideas to lead workshops, meetups, a film and discussion club, a men’s group, and so much more.

Many of their activities take place at the Newton Free Library. Carol works with other library systems on programs related to this demographic. One project in particular is a multi-year grant to the Boston Public Library to develop and implement an investor education program called How Can I Afford Retirement? This project will be expanded to other libraries in Massachusetts as well in other states in the coming year through grants from the Investor Protection Trust .

The Institute drew to a close with Hagar Shirman giving us some great advice on moving from theory to practice with the “Access Skills Framework.” She provided a step-by-step guide to implementation including  guiding principles and a tool kit. Hagar reminded us that we have the information and tools that we need, and now a dynamic network of like-minded colleagues to go out there and show the world what libraries can do to make the lives of active older adults healthier, happier, and more meaningful.













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Notes from the New England Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, Part 4 New Study on Postsecondary Participation Among Older Adults

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