Try to keep the trends and characteristics of each generation in the back of your mind, but always remember to treat every older adult as an individual. When asked what she liked to read about, ninety-three year-old Sadie stated that she wanted to read about “sex, sex, sex,” to the surprise and delight of a colleague. While it is important to be aware of the generational trends discussed above, it is equally important to remember that each individual has a type of book that speaks to them in a personal way. Books about ladies living in small towns may be a current trend, but don’t jump in with a suggestion too quickly. Wait until you have conducted the full readers’ advisory interview before suggesting titles.
THIS WILL BE BORING IF YOU ARE NOT A LIBRARIAN, SKIP AS DESIRED:
My boss sent me this fantastic article from 2006, “Older Adults and Readers’ Advisory” by Alicia Ahlvers and I have read it a half-dozen times. It is packed with great stuff, including lists of favorite authors sorted by generation that will be helpful for when I’m doing RA and flying blind for whatever reason.
Ahlvers quotes another writer, Mary Pipher, who says: “Many old people are living in a world designed for young people. They can’t drive, walk through shopping malls or airports, or deal with rushed doctors in managed care systems. Many can’t handle stairs, small-print books or menus in darkened restaurants. … Some people live to be more than a hundred, but they often outlive their support systems, neighborhoods, and bank accounts.”
Many of my favorite patrons are older adults and I admit I’d never really looked at how RA is different for them and how to be better at it. All of publishing could be doing better by older adults, I think, but libraries have the most opportunities to do so. Lots of food for thought.