Programming Tips for Improving Your Patrons’ Cognitive Health

May 31, 2018 | Articles

Earlier this month, we hosted an educational webinar: “Play a Crucial Role in Improving Your Patrons’ Cognitive Health.” During that webinar, our customer intimacy manager, Jackie Flavin, introduced attendees to four innovative programming ideas for libraries that are ready to embrace the important role they play in improving their community members’ cognitive health. 

During Jackie’s presentation, attendees couldn’t help but weigh in on the conversation. While we only officially covered four programming ideas during the webinar, we covered many more in the discussion that took place. We loved all the great ideas attendees shared with us for cognitive-health-related programming — we loved them so much, in fact, that we’ve assembled some of our favorites in this post.
Read through some of the prominent themes and ideas submitted by attendees during the webinar to gain more ideas for driving health initiatives in your own library.

Build Partnerships Between Your Library and Community Organizations

Building strong community partnerships emerged as a major focus for many of our attendees, as forging connections with community organizations that share the library’s audience, core mission and key values amplifies the visibility and reach of the library’s programming.
Michele Anderson, a community specialist with Meridian Library District in Idaho, shared that her library is in the final stages of launching its Memory Café program. Through this program, people with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia, along with their care partners, are invited to socialize and participate in group programs in a safe and relaxing environment. To accelerate and ensure the success of Meridian’s Memory Café, the library is actively forging connections with local assisted living centers, as well as the local Alzheimer’s Association.

Look for “Piggy-back” Programming Opportunities

Another theme that arose was the importance of libraries being strategic in how they drive participation in cognitive-health-related programs. Let’s face it — while we all know the importance of keeping our minds healthy, patrons probably aren’t chomping at the bit to give up an hour of their precious time to attend a seminar on brain health, and it can be hard to convey the positive impact that online brain training can have on their health. We see this as an opportunity — an opportunity for libraries to get creative about how they get patrons to engage in cognitive-health-related programs.

One of the strategies we shared was to “piggy-back” cognitive-health-related programming for adults onto a program happening simultaneously for children. Jackie shared an example of this program piggy-backing related to BrainHQ.

We’ve heard from public libraries that offer BrainHQ to their patrons that its usage soars when they pair it with their weekly children’s storytime. The children that attend weekly storytime are always accompanied by adult caretakers; left to their own devices, those adults tend to wander the library to pass the time until storytime wraps up. Why not offer them an opportunity to engage in a program or activity that’s scientifically proven to boost their brain health while they wait?

Identify Current Programs That Improve Cognitive Health

As attendees heard during our webinar, planning cognitive health programs doesn’t have to be complicated. Your library is probably already offering opportunities for adult patrons to boost their brain health without even knowing it. We shared some examples of programs that people don’t traditionally associate with brain health — activities like ping-pong and gardening — and presented compelling evidence that these activities do, in fact, improve cognitive function.

These examples sparked some creativity among attendees, who were eager to draw connections between easy, low-fuss programs they were already offering and cognitive health. One librarian shared that her library hosts a monthly chess night, where patrons can learn how to play chess or match up with an opponent for a few rounds. If there’s one game that’s bound to get the brain cells firing, it’s chess!

Connecting the dots between cognitive health and the programs you offer can help reinforce the value your library brings to your community. Look through your calendar of upcoming events – do you have programs planned that might contribute to improving your community’s cognitive health and well-being? If so, let patrons know!

Kayla Fargo

As Demco Software's Marketing Director, Kayla champions our efforts to educate public libraries on the need for a robust community engagement strategy. She works alongside our other teams to ensure that Demco Software's solutions effectively complement and amplify libraries' community engagement efforts.