Libraries are landscapes for local communities to come together and join in collective learning. Libraries promote community education by offering a variety of programs where locals of all ages can engage with new information. Programs can be anything from workshops to classes, to fun activities and more. For older adults who are retired or have plenty of leisure time, the local library is a great place to spend the day.
As the world becomes more digital, though, public libraries are adapting to the change by building more tech-based programs. This can be off-putting to seniors, as new technologies cater mostly to children and youth. But with tech introduced into everyday library programming, seniors have the opportunity to interact with technology now more than ever. Electronic or tech-based services can help improve brain function and overall health. With creative programs that appeal to seniors, local libraries can continue to fulfill their mission as community centers.
Technology at the Forefront
Libraries often cater to seniors by offering to deliver or mail books to their home via an online service. Introducing technology into programming is a step beyond that can help further engage seniors who love to learn, or just love to bond with their community. These programs prove that it is never too late for seniors to keep up with the modern, digital age. By participating in tech-based programs, seniors can improve their overall health, learn and understand current and future technologies, and sharpen cognitive abilities that lessen the impact of certain ailments common in older age.
Incorporation Into Fitness
Technology-based programs can seem sedentary or dull if you imagine sitting around a computer all day. But participating and engaging with tech doesn’t mean seniors have to stare at a screen for hours. Libraries are starting to offer more opportunities for seniors to exercise with technologies that compel them to do so. Examples of this are the Nintendo Wii gaming system and Virtual Reality headsets, both of which rely on physical activity for gameplay. The way technology is utilized in these programs encourages seniors to think about their fitness and get active with other seniors in the community.
One example of a fitness-inspired program hails from the Brooklyn Public Library in New York. Their “Library Lanes Bowling League” program invites older adults to join a virtual bowling team through the Microsoft Xbox One and compete with teams from other libraries and senior sites. Not only does it give local seniors a sense of togetherness, but they are finding creative ways to prioritize their fitness while still having fun.
Two Worlds Meet
Technology moves fast, and the constant wave of new gadgets and apps can be overwhelming and difficult to understand. Libraries make the learning process easy by offering free, public classes on how to use the latest electronic resources. Classes are designed specifically for older adults who may have limitations in vision, hearing, and physical mobility that can impede a productive learning environment. Lessons focus on computer basics, online privacy, cybersecurity, library resources, social media, and accessible features of various hardware devices and software programs. Check with your local library for information on how to participate in any workshops or classes they may be offering.
Learning computer basics is essential for keeping up with growing technology. Once a senior learns how to search the web and use different types of software on their own, they can stay updated on emerging technologies instead of feeling left behind. It’s equally important that seniors familiarize themselves with the positive and negative consequences of technology so that they’ll develop their own attitudes and habits around it.
Treatment of Ailments
Technology-centered library programs can help seniors improve their cognitive abilities. As they learn about and engage with new material, brain activity is constantly flowing and working to sharpen cognitive functions. As adults age, the decrease in cognitive ability can lead to impairments in sensory and motor skills. The most common conditions experienced by seniors are Alzheimer’s and Dementia, both of which stem from issues with brain function. By interacting with technology on a regular basis, the brain is working to counteract the progression of these conditions.
Library programs can utilize technology to create fun opportunities for seniors to exercise their brains. The Gail Borden Public Library in Illinois offers the Tale & Travel Memories program to assist seniors with developing memory loss. The program uses books, images, and music from historical periods to help jog participant’s memories. Other libraries and senior living facilities incorporate Virtual Reality (VR) technology into similar programs, making it an even more immersive, personalized experience. By taking a look into the past, seniors are stimulating their memory while experiencing an impressive piece of technology.