Sunday, April 7, 2013

"Library User Profile: Older Adults", by Frances Andreu and Megan Cross

Who are older adults?
  • Young old (65-74 years of age)
  • Old (75-84)
  • Oldest old (85-99)
  • Centennials (100+)
Active old
  • Live on their own, or in retirement communities
  • Manage their own transportation
  • Involved in community activities
Frail elders
  • Among oldest group, 85 and older
  • Live in residential facilities
  • Various debilitating conditions
Statistics (U.S. Census 2010)
  • 55 and older (24.9% of population)
  • 65 and older (12.4% of population)
    • 5.1% male
    • 7.3% female
  • 9.7% growth since 2010 (fastest growing segment of population)

Aging characteristics of elderly
  • Decreases in
    • Eyesight
    • Hearing
    • Taste, touch and smell
  • Mental decline
    • Dementia
    • Alzhimer's Disease (form of dementia)
    • Sundowning (form of dementia that occurs primarily at dusk and night)
  • Habits
    • Physical decline can limit social activities
    • Loss of comfort when leaving home
  • Outlook
    • Loss is inevitable
    • Social and emotional losses can be overcome

How can libraries benefit older adults
  • Recreation and leisure
    • Library programs
    • Entertainment materials
    • Free Internet access
  • Technology instruction
    • 35% of adults over 65 use the Internet
    • Computer classes/lectures
    • One-on-one instruction with library staff
  • Money and health information
    • Library programs
    • Books and Internet resources
    • Librarian to assist research
How can older adults benefit the library
  • Knowledgeable volunteers
    • Draw from life experiences
    • Familiarity with the library
  • Monetary donations
    • Most net worth
    • Prime target for donations
    • Willing to spend it if engaged

  • Increase library patronage (Most people in U.S. are 50 and older)
  • New outreach and services
  • Voting in favor of libraries
  • More older adults vote
  • Vote for things that benefit them

  1. Acquire current data about the older population and incorporate it into planning and budgeting.
  2. Ensure that the special needs and interests of older adults in your community are reflected in the library's collections, programs, and services.
  3. Make the library's collections and physical facilities safe, comfortable and inviting for all older adults.
    • mid-level shelving
    • benches for browsing
    • comfortable seating
  4. Make the library a focal point for information services to older adults.
  5. Target the older population in library programming.
  6. Reach out to older adults in the community who are unable to travel to the library.
  7. Train the library’s staff to serve older adults with courtesy and respect.

Service tips for older people
  • Eye contact and speaking clearly
  • Technical knowledge
    • May not be tech-savvy but don't assume ignorance
    • Resistance to change
    • Be encouraging
  • Treat older adults with respect

  • Understand trends and characteristics of older adults
  • Be aware of special wants and needs
  • Know how to best accommodate

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