While September marks the start of a new school year for many students and parents alike, it can seem like the start of the glum end-of-summer blues for many seniors. That’s why the Carleton Place Public Library is planning a series of seniors’ programs this fall.
“I know that seniors’ isolation is a big problem and we’re hoping to change that,” said Caroline Zeeman, the adult services and outreach coordinator at the Carleton Place Public Library.
The seniors’ programs are based on a user survey that the library conducted earlier this year. Results showed that seniors are looking for more life-long learning classes and more programs during the afternoon rather than in the evenings.
And the library certainly is delivering on these requests.
Zeeman, who has a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in history and art history from Queen’s University and a library and information technology diploma from Algonquin College, has arranged two different financial seminars for seniors. The first one comes up on Sept. 11 and is called ‘Making your money last in retirement.’ The second seminar, called ‘Fixed income – bonds for seniors,’ is on Oct.16. Both are free.
“A representative from Edward Jones will be giving a talk about what kind of investments you might need to make through your retirement and stuff like that,” Zeeman said. “A lot of the time it comes down to seniors not knowing what’s available to them so hopefully these [financial] programs will help to change that.”
To address life-long learning, Zeeman is continuing her tech-tutoring program. It is a one-on-one program with the tech-spert herself. Seniors bring Zeeman their devices and she helps them learn to use it. “I see a lot of seniors come in who are new to Facebook but their grandkids or extended family literally only communicate via Facebook so they are trying to learn it,” she explained. “A lot of it is taking the fear out of using social media.”
Zeeman, who loves meeting new people and hearing their stories, said the goal is to make sure her students do not have to come back – although they are welcome to. “I want you to be so comfortable with your device that you leave knowing how to use it the way you want.” Tech-tutoring is free and available at the library every Thursday by appointment.
The library is looking for volunteers to join the once-a-month homebound delivery program. The program delivers books to patrons who cannot make it to the library themselves. Anyone confined to their home or care institution in Carleton Place or Beckwith due to a serious illness, physical or visual disability can use this program, Zeeman said. There is no fee for this program but a library card is required. Interested volunteers must have a driver’s license.
“I found that a big part of it was sitting and talking with [the patron] for half an hour. They were just happy to talk – about books, or what happened with their grandkids,” said Zeeman, who used to deliver books herself until both patrons moved away. “I might have been the only person that came to see them that day.”
Zeeman said she is most excited about the social conversation circle program. “Come have some tea, meet people and talk about whatever you want to talk about,” she said.
Zeeman explained that this is an important program because it gives seniors the opportunity to mingle, make friends and talk about what is happening in their lives without the pressure of an intellectual-style book club.
“It’s really interesting to me to hear about people’s lives and to meet people who have lived a different life than I have,” she said. Social conversation circle runs every second Wednesday at 1 p.m. starting Sept. 13.
“Libraries are expected to fulfill roles more than just coming to take out books, it’s about meeting the needs of patrons in the digital age and being a community hub. A place where people can come and meet and discuss. It’s about having access to materials, help, ideas and community resources,” Zeeman said.
To see a complete calendar of events and programs, including monthly meditation, craft club and more, visit www.carletonplacelibrary.ca.
This article was first published in the September issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our September issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer or read our digital version.