Living Columns & Blogs

From The Beacon: Older Americans vital part of library

Attention older Americans: May is your month. Established in 1963 by the Federal Administration on Aging, Older Americans Month is designed to highlight the concerns and needs of seniors. This year's theme is "Older Americans: Connecting the Community."

There is no better place for seniors to connect the community than at the public library. On behalf of the staff at all five branches of the Beaufort County Library, we would like to thank our seniors for all that they do. While people of all ages help in our libraries, a quick glance at our volunteer staff will show you that the majority who give time are retired seniors.

Some shelve our books. Others help run book sales. And still others lend valuable skills acquired throughout their lives, giving their time to sit on our Friends of the Library boards or teach instructional classes. Already this month, the Beaufort County Library has supported our community's seniors at the Lowcounty Regional Senior Information Expo. There, librarians were present as seniors gained knowledge on a variety of topics, including nutrition, exercise and Medicare. Still the library itself houses vital resources for seniors, presenting opportunities for both lifelong learning and connecting with their community year-round.

Computer literacy classes are very popular among our older customers. Reference librarians offer classes for those who are just learning how to hold a mouse. More advanced senior students take advantage of classes on Microsoft programs and setting up email accounts. They can even learn to connect with their grandchildren online with social-networking classes.

Individual branches also offer informational programs on senior issues such as living wills and advanced directives. Still others enjoy free yoga sessions or movie screenings. Call your local branch or go to for more info.

And of course, the library has a variety of print titles to help seniors navigate the murky waters of life issues that pertain to them. A few examples found at the Bluffton branch include:

  • "All About Medicare" edited by Joseph F. Stenken. Written almost entirely in question-and-answer format, this guide lays out the basics of what is covered, to whom the benefits go and when they can be received.
  • "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Long-Term Care Planning" by Marilee Driscoll and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Social Security" by Lita Epstein. These types of guides always serve as the quintessential easy-to-use starting place when researching an unfamiliar topic.
  • "Aging Well, The Complete Guide to Physical and Emotional Health" by Jeanne Wei and Sue Levkoff. This book is designed to help readers age well physically, socially and psychologically. The book provides a general overview of positive self-care strategies, in addition to detailed information of specific body systems and how to maintain them as they change with age.
  • Our libraries have become multigenerational learning environments that bring valuable resources to everyone who walks through our doors. Thanks to all of our older Americans for their expertise, caring and patience that they bring with them to the library every day.

    Kelly Vadney is the circulation supervisor for the Bluffton Branch of the Beaufort County Public Library, at 120 Palmetto Way.