Your Local Library: A Prescription for Retirement

Amanda Hopper has worked with the Youth Services Department at BCPL for five years and is currently the YS Coordinator.  Amanda lives in Union with her husband and two daughters.  She is passionate about serving the children and families of Boone County.   

Seniors are living longer than ever, and many maintain an active lifestyle. According to Shock of Gray by Ted Fishman, the number of people in the U.S. between the ages of 75 and 85 will almost double by 2050, and the amount of healthy, active, engaged, older adults will also grow.  They will continue working, volunteering, and pursuing both social and professional interests.

However, while studies show that more and more seniors remain engaged and active in their later years, many people still believe that older adults are not able to learn as readily as they used to. This is not true. In fact, exercise and continual mental activity is proven to stimulate the growth of neurons throughout life.

Boone County Public Library is committed to helping older adults keep their minds engaged by offering them opportunities to learn new things.  The Library offers basic computing just for seniors at the Florence Branch on a weekly basis and for those who already have the basics down, quarterly classes on Word and Excel are offered at the Main Library and the Scheben Branch.

Researchers at University of Kentucky, College of Medicine, found that learning a second language can help stave off dementia. The Library has an online language learning tool, called Mango that is easy to use and great for older adults who want to keep their brains in shape. Mango contains 47 different language courses and can be accessed from the Library’s website www.bcpl.org.

And speaking of exercise, research in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that middle-aged people who exercise regularly, and stay in shape, are nearly 40 percent less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease by the time they are sixty-five. BCPL offers Yoga and Zumba classes on a weekly basis so people can exercise both their minds and their bodies while at the Library.

For a healthy retirement, it is also important for seniors to maintain their social networks.  At BCPL, there are many opportunities for older adults to stave off isolation and stay socially active.  From eight different monthly book clubs and bridge, mahjong and chess games, to drop-in knitting and a writer’s group, there are plenty of outlets for social engagement at the Library.

Senior adults can feel connected to their local community by reading about Boone County’s rich heritage and history and sharing their own stories.  The Library has a large collection of local history materials and a lot of them have been digitized and compiled into an online encyclopedia called Chronicles of Boone County http://www.bcpl.org/cbc/.  Mentally rewarding challenges such as researching the family tree can also help to keep the mind engaged. BCPL subscribes to the popular genealogy database, Ancestry, which can be accessed at any of the Library’s six buildings and staff members are always happy to help with the research.

Keeping the mind and body engaged in old age is a wonderful prescription for staying healthy.  And, going to the local public library to access the myriad of services and programs is one way to fill this prescription.

–Amanda

 

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