Keys to Engaging Older Adults @ your library

Keys to Engaging Older Adults

Tips and tools on assisting older adults from the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services

Key Terms

Here is a list of terms used by the aging population to address day-to-day living, care, and community resources.

Aging in place: The ability to live in one’s own home – wherever that might be – for as long as confidently and comfortably possible. Livability can be extended through the incorporation of universal design principles, care options, and other assistive technologies.

Assistive technology (AT): Any item or piece of equipment used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of aging individuals in all aspects of life. Assistive Technology includes everything from low tech reachers to high tech devices and adapted computers.

Civic engagement: Individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern; a feeling of belonging; an experience of investment and ownership in the communities to which citizens belong.

Elder law: Elder law is a specialty in legal practice, covering estate planning, wills, trusts, arrangements for care, social security and retirement benefits, protection against elder abuse (physical, emotional and financial), and other concerns of older people.

Encore careers: The term “encore careers” generally refers to people over 50 doing work that combines continued income/compensation with personal meaning and social impact – to meet society’s biggest needs; paid work with a social purpose; often fills a need of experienced workers for meaningful, post-retirement work. See Service America Act (

Hospice care: A care model that  provides comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments; care is provided in the patient’s home as well as in freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

Independent and assisted living:  Two models for aging adults are defined by state and federal regulations.  These include: Adult day care, Independent living, Adult family care home, Assisted living facilities, Skilled nursing facilities, and Alzheimer’s/Dementia/Memory care ( for definitions).

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities: Neighborhoods,buildings/apartments and communities that gradually transitioned into living spaces where most of the population are older adults.

Nutrition sites: Organizations that offer meals to seniors at social and community centers including senior centers, churches, and schools. These congregate sites also offer seniors social interaction, mental stimulation, and community involvement.

Respite Care: Temporary relief from duties for caregivers, ranging from several hours to days. May be provided in-home or in a residential care. 

Universal design: The design of products and environments to be usable by people of all ages and abilities, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for significant adaptation or specialized design.

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