In the Fall of 2021, an exciting partnership with the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) and Trinity Health Saint Mary’s Family Medicine Residency Program began as a result of the funds from an NNLM Public Library Collaboration Grant. The series was called Seniors Be Well held once a month in the auditorium of the Main Library, the medical Residents presented health topics pertinent to the community’s senior population: health misinformation, memory loss, nutrition, diabetes and heart disease, preventative medicine, advance care planning, and managing grief and stress. At some of the talks, community partners such as the Area Agency on Aging or Alzheimer Association co-presented on services available to the seniors in our community.
Making a day of it, after the talks we scheduled a low-impact exercise class geared towards seniors, and ended the day with a book club. In between we had coffee and snack breaks and time to explore the library. Many of the participants stayed for all 3 events, and some participants became very close throughout the series. They expressed sincere gratitude for this programming just for them and how it had helped alleviate the loneliness from aging in general which was of course exasperated by the pandemic. The list of books we read and discussed is below, and participants were able to keep all the books, building a nice health library.
The final event in the program series cumulated with a Caregiver Expo held at the Main Library. Representatives from Area Agency on Aging, Alzheimer Association, Legal Aid, an Elder Law Firm, Medicaid Programming Assistance, senior housing and hospice providers and many more were there to answer questions and interact with caregivers and their loved ones. The Caregiver Expo was a program GRPL previously sponsored annually but had stopped due to limited staffing. When we opened the doors on that Sunday afternoon, people flooded in, and on the evaluations nearly every participant asked that this become an annual event again. Providers that participated also relished the opportunity to meet people in person to discuss their services and the difficulties caregiving presents. In total 243 people participated in the Seniors Be Well programming. Thanks to NNLM Region 6 for your generous support of this most valuable health programming opportunity in our community.
Guest post by Caralee Witteveen-Lane, MLIS, MA, AHIP
Manager of West Michigan Regional Library Services
Trinity Health Saint Mary’s, Grand Rapids