Bessie Sullivan: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
People are living longer and our birth rate is dropping, consequently, seniors have become a significant portion of our population. Engaging seniors is a focus for many organizations including the library. We have started to look at things like how we design and construct buildings for access, alternative formats for people with print issues, and adult programming that encourages continuous learning. June is Seniors’ Month in Ontario and is a good time to look at all the ways the aging population is influencing our culture.
Today on Library Moments Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will each talk about library materials that are by, about, or for a senior.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: I had trouble pinning down something to talk about for this episode. I am 55 years old now and in some establishments that makes me eligible for a senior’s discount. I don’t feel like my interests have changed that much since I was 20 or 30 so I have been pondering “what would a senior want to hear about” and, of course, it’s everything. If you have hobbies, there are books at the library to help you pursue them further, if you want to know more about the newest technology, there are titles geared to seniors such as Computers for Seniors for Dummies, but there is also iPhone: the missing manual which would still be of help to you, no matter the age. I looked at Dick Van Dyke’s Keep Moving and Other Tips and Truths About Aging and I thought, while he is still dancing at age 90, maybe the rest of us would be too if we had been involved in a few hugely successful television series and movies. There are travel guides like The Great Canadian Bucket List: one-of-a-kind travel experiences but if you prefer to stay home, maybe some cookbooks would meet your fancy. I personally know older patrons who come in to take out dvds or books with very risque cover art – perhaps it would still be an appropriate suggestion at this stage to check the nonfiction shelves for Tantric Sex: making love last. There are senior’s magazines like Good Times and Zoomer and there are also Canadian Cycling and Runner’s World magazines for individuals with those passions. Estate planning titles could be studied to plan for death and 50 Athletes Over 50: teach us to live a strong, healthy life could inspire us to live fully. While my view is that a number shouldn’t define how we feel or what we like, I am supposed to play nice while doing Library Moments so I did choose a book to tell you about. My choice is Younger Next Year: live strong, fit and sexy – until you’re 80 and beyond by Chris Crowley. Interestingly, there is one title for men and one for women. Both of them show us how to turn back our biological clocks – how to put off 70% of the normal problems of aging like weakness, sore joints, bad balance and also eliminate 50% of serious illness and injury. The key to the program is found in the rules; exercise six days a week, don’t eat crap, connect and commit to others. There are seven rules all together, based on the latest findings. Both men and women can become functionally younger every year for the next five to ten years and then continue to live with newfound vitality and pleasure deep into our 80s and beyond.
Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: We have a wide variety of films at HCPL that tell stories from the perspective seniors. Not that, as Sherrill said, age should put a blanket definition who you are, but it can be interesting seeing things through the eyes of a character that has experienced more in life.
In our DVD collection we have the sci-fi classic Cocoon in which residents of a seniors’ home find the vitality of their youth recaptured after swimming in a pool that is sustaining alien cocoons destined for the planet Antarea. Throughout the film the characters grapple with the choice between mortality or eternal life.
The films Cloudburst and Away from Her talk about navigating some of the complexities in relationships that growing older brings. In Away from Her, Grant and Fiona find their devotion to each other challenged by Fiona’s Alzheimer’s disease. When Fiona is moved into a home, both she and Grant find themselves seeking solace in others. In Cloudburst, Dotty is moved into a nursing home by her granddaughter, against the wishes of her girlfriend, Stella. The movie takes place before same sex marriage was legal in the US, so Stella embarks on a road trip to Nova Scotia to get married. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker who is going to visit his dying mother, and the trio bond.
While you may not initially see any similarities between Disney Pixar’s Up and the film Mr. Holmes starring Ian McKellen, both revolve around the regrets that we can accumulate in life and coming to terms with them in our later years. In Up Carl harbours regrets about not fulfilling a lifelong dream that he and his late wife shared, but ultimately finds fulfillment in a friendship with young Russell who takes it upon himself to help Carl. In Mr. Holmes, an aging Sherlock Holmes dealing with the early stages of dementia tries to unravel the true details of his last case, discovering the pain and regret that made him retire from detective work, but also rediscovering the value of connecting to those he cares about.
Film, like reading, can help us see the world from the perspective of others. Even if you aren’t a senior, you will be some day, and these films are excellent for getting a possible glimpse of the challenges and joys of our future.
Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Inger Ash Wolfe is a pseudonym for the Canadian writer Michael Redhill. Who is also the Friends of the library’s guest on November 13th for their annual book gala. Whereas Michael Redhill writes wonderful literary fiction infrequently, his alter ego Wolfe writes very scary murder mysteries on a regular basis. So far Wolfe has written four mysteries starring the unlikely heroine Hazel Micallef who is a percocet addicted senior of 64 living with her even more senior mother. Hazel is not a “yes man” and is often in hot water professionally as a police detective for telling it like it is and not taking direction from her younger senior officers. She is in chronic pain and that makes her cranky and her painkiller dependency came from a surgery that didn’t quite solve the problem. The first in the series is The Calling and also has a film adaptation starring Susan Sarandon, who is actually a little old for the role at 69. The Friends of the library are really excited about this year’s guest and the library has books by both Redhill and Wolfe so you can read before meeting him.
As you can see, there are many options in terms of collections aimed directly at seniors, but as Sherrill pointed out, there is no need to limit yourself, after all age is just a number.
Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of Library Moments here on 100.9 CanoeFM.
*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM June 5th – June 11th, 2016.