By: Susan Sentz
September is a busy month for libraries with Library Card Signup Month, Banned Books Week and many other month related promotions. With so much going on it is hard to program for everything and other worthy observance month topics get lost along the way. So if you are interested in a health literacy topic to promote in September, consider Healthy Aging Month.
September is Healthy Aging Month! This month is dedicated to focusing attention on the positive aspects of growing older. Healthy Aging promotes taking ownership of your own health including physical, social, mental, and/or financial health. Healthy Aging Month can be recognized by any individual to help grow as they go through many of life’s phases. Carolyn Worthington, editor-in-chief of Healthy Aging Magazine, states “We saw a need to draw attention to the myths of aging, to shout out ‘Hey, it’s not too late to take control of your health, it’s never too late to get started on something new.’ Why not think about the positive aspects of aging instead of the stereotypes and the negative aspects?”
The Bethlehem Area Public Library (South Side Branch) held a Positive Psychology Workshop taught by Anna Gaitanos, a local counselor in Bethlehem. Janine Santoro, Branch Adult Services Technician, planned the program because she wanted to tie in a program to the Summer Reading Program theme centered on physical, emotional and intellectual health. This program also promotes Healthy Aging Month in that it recognizes the ownership of one’s own well being. The Positive Psychology Workshop is meant to help attendees to identify their resources to make changes toward better mental health and fulfillment.
This program was also chosen for the end of summer to help prepare attendees for the coming months. Santoro states, “I thought it might be a good way to end the summer as we go into months that are typically associated with the cold, the darkness and for many people seasonal depression. I am hoping that the benefits of this workshop will be that people can go into the fall and winter seasons with more resources and resilience to help with personal things that might be seen as obstacles.” Through programs such as these Santoro hopes people will find the library as a place where patrons can use resources and attend programs that can help them reach their goals.
Additional Programming Ideas
There are many types of programs that can support Healthy Aging Month and your library may already run some of them. Any health related program for the mind or body can promote healthy aging. Many libraries offer weekly yoga which supports both relaxation and exercise opportunities. Other programs that may assist Healthy Aging Month would be health checks including blood pressure and vision checks. Your library could also run a health fair to showcase the different agencies and organizations in your area. These programs are a great way to have your patrons continue to see the library as a resource through the many services offered. There are many different opportunities to promote healthy aging as a lifestyle to your patrons through programs.