Question: Local Community Agencies: Review your local libraries’ (public and academic) websites. What classes and/or opportunities do they make available specifically for older adults? What other local agencies (i.e., senior centers, lifelong learning institutes, volunteer agencies, etc.) are available to encourage senior participation in the community? Discuss ways in which these agencies might collaborate to provide older adults with leisure-time, recreational, and/or educational opportunities? Identify several benefits of this type of collaboration.
I have to admit, my first thought in response to this question was Meals on Wheels. Which is an admirable organization, but I was very ashamed that it was my first thought for an agency for older adults. In addition, it does not fulfill the criteria for “leisure-time, recreational, and/or educational opportunities.” That is, unless you volunteer for the organization. Taking a few moments to research the topic I found a variety of agencies beyond the library:
Retired and Senior Volunteer Program: http://www.volunteerlansing.com A place where older persons can engage in volunteering in a variety of different situations, from education and community service.
There are also several senior citizen community centers. However, none of them have an online presence. East Lansing, however, has a web presence for its senior programs. This includes Prime Time Seniors’ Program. A nationally recognized program, Prime Time states they are, “committed to providing programs which engage the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual and vocational dimensions of wellness and encourage involvement in the greater East Lansing area community.”
This program encompasses many activities and seems to be the most comprehensive program in the Lansing area for older adults. From the website for Prime Time they offer the following:
Health and fitness activities… Prime Time also provides seniors with Meals on Wheels, blood pressure services, chore services, a grief and loss support group, annual flu shots and health fair and a foot care clinic. Prime Time also organizes special field trips and events for its patrons.
However, it is not free. Membership costs $20 for residents and $30 for nonresidents. Couples fees are $30 for residents and $45 for non-residents. Prime Time does also offer scholarships for low income people, who meet guidelines. Classes also cost money, but if you are a member, there is a discounted rate.
I admit I have a crush on this program. I cannot believe how comprehensive the program is, from the services they offer, to the easy to navigate and use website. It truly seeks to provide a Third Space for older adults. It allows them to build a community, connect, and stay active, educated, and healthy. The fact that they go beyond community services and offer affordable chore assistance, medical help, and even a discount on taxi services!
East Lansing also has a seniors’ Commission, which advises the city on matters that will relate to older adults, with the goal to enhance their quality of life within East Lansing. This combined with the Prime Time Program; makes East Lansing appear to be quite dedicated to its older population. It is a pity that the city of Lansing does not offer any kind of similar services, at least, none that are readily found.
The library does not offer classes specifically for older adults. However, there are several activities that are open to all ages, such as craft events, where you bring your own craft and work on it independently in a group. Several libraries within the Capital Area District Library system also offer groups such as the “Down Memory Lane Reminiscers”, which is a group that is designed to bring people together to talk about the past in their community. According to the CADL website, reminiscer groups involve “live presentations use music, props, pictures and activities to encourage the exchange of stories and memories among seniors.” Other libraries in the system offer card game days, movies, and other lectures that is open to all adults.
CADL also offers outreach services to homebound adults, from home delivery, a bookmobile, and small book nooks in senior citizen homes.
I feel a campaign directed toward older adults would be immensely helpful for these services. They could reach out to a population who maybe is not using the library often. It could serve to let Lansing’s population of older adults know that the library is a space they can come to connect and engage with their community. As older populations are offered spaces to engage, not only do they have a sense of community, but it helps keep them mentally active.
Studies have shown that the more you stay mentally active, the better your mental faculties will be as you age. According to the Cleveland Clinic playing board games, being active in social activities slows cognitive decline (When Memory is Normal and When it is Not-So-Normal). Extrapolating from this would lead me to believe that knitting, crafting, and other activities fulfill these needs and help slow declines. Which further impresses upon the importance of such groups such as Prime Time and programming offered by public libraries.
In addition, groups such as the Reminiscers could also provide valuable connections to the younger members of the community. There could be a tremendous exchange of knowledge between the older adults and younger community members, to help keep oral histories alive.