Cohen-Mansfield and Wirtz (2007) looked at factors which may contribute to adult day care participants entering a nursing home. In the abstract of this paper, Cohen-Mansfield and Wirtz reported that a low frequency of socializing with relatives and friends was a significant predictor of future institutionalization. They concluded that “The findings highlight the importance of socialization and suggest that a focus on successful and reinforcing socialization should be an important component of adult day care programming. The results also suggest that addressing patient mental health variables may be important in delaying institutionalization in this population.”
What does this mean for libraries? I think that librarians should create outreach programs to adult day cares, senior centers, and assisted living facilities. Book discussions at these locations can promote social interaction and lead to friendships. In addition, programs that encourage memory and social interaction should be especially useful. Rosemary Honnold and Saralyn Mesaros (2004) book, Serving Seniors, has an entire chapter about remembering programs - from do-it-yourself programs to program kits that one can buy from BiFolkal Productions or Eldersong Publications (p. 155). The BiFolkal remembering kits are very popular in my area.
Another way for librarians to promote socializing among older adults is to organize local volunteers to deliver books to the homebound. By having volunteers deliver books to homebound older adults, these volunteers can provide cheerful conversation and interaction for very isolated individuals. I believe that this could make a big difference in the quality of life of homebound individuals.
Cohen-Mansfield, Jiska; Wirtz, Philip W. (2007, June). Characteristics of adult day care participants who enter a nursing home. Psychology and Aging, 22(2), 354-360.
Honnold, R & Mesaros, S. (2004). Serving Seniors: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.