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Posts by Brigid Cahalan

Digital Native... or Not?: Learning Computers Later in Life

Marc Prensky coined the term digital natives to describe those born after the advent of digital technology, circa 1980. He posits that they differ fundamentally from those who came before. To carry the natives analogy a bit further, Prensky suggests that even if we digital immigrants learn the language, we will always have an accent.

Lark Birdsong calls many adults older than 50 technological outliers—“people at the end of the curve 

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Brain Fitness: Practical Advice to Keep Your Brain Sharp

Alvaro Fernandez, co-founder and CEO of SharpBrains and co-author (with Elkhonon Goldberg) of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: 18 Interviews with Scientists, Practical Advice, and Product Reviews to Keep your Brain Sharp will be discussing the growing field of research in this area at two 

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Working After Work: Finding a Job at Midlife and Beyond

Are you looking for a job? Perhaps you feel ready for a career change, were laid off, or realize that you retired too early and want—or need—to get back into the workforce doing... something...

If you’re over 60, maybe 50, or even 40 you might find the prospect of a job search daunting, especially when you see 20- and 30-somethings competing for the same positions. Well, take heart: there’s a lot of help out there for you. The following are a few information-packed books I found at

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The Reader's Den: "It Can't Happen Here"

Now that I’ve become more aware of Sinclair Lewis thanks to It Can’t Happen Here, I’ve seen references to him everywhere. And will keep my eyes and ears open for staged productions of his works—Main Street is one I’ve been wanting to see on stage for a long time now.

Back to It Can’t Happen Here. If you have had a chance to read part, most, or all of it, how believable do you think the characters are? Do they seem like real people, who act in ways real people might? Or is each character starkly sketched, the author intending them to be the 

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Caring for Someone with Alzheimer's Disease: Where to Turn for Help

Are you caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease? Or perhaps you are watching a loved one who seems to be developing symptoms, and you wonder what the future holds?

HBO Documentary Films recently produced a 4-part film series entitled The Alzheimer’s Project (you can stream the videos from the link). I borrowed

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The Reader's Den: "It Can't Happen Here"

I hope you’ve been able to get yourself a copy of It Can’t Happen Here. Or perhaps you’ve been reading it online, or listening to the e-audio 

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The Reader's Den: "It Can't Happen Here"

Summertime--the time of year when I get the yen to dip into some of the literature I've heard about over the years but had not gotten around to reading. Sinclair Lewis's works fall into that category and he's the writer I chose. Did I select Main Street, Babbitt, or Arrowsmith? No, It Can't Happen 

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June Is Bustin' Out All Over

So the song goes. But may I ask—are you bustin' out all over? If so, it may be time to get moving. Even if you’re smooth, sleek and at your fighting weight, exercise is always a good thing and doing it with others multiplies the enjoyment.

This past Saturday I spent an energizing few hours walking from Manhattan to Ward’s Island, then to Randall’s Island, north to the Triborough Bridge (recently re-named the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge) and over it, back to Manhattan. If you didn’t 

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The Value of Older People: Thoughts During Older Americans Month

Old age is not a subject most of us enjoy dwelling upon. As Groucho Marx remarked, “Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.”

But since May is Older Americans Month, I have been thinking about older people, whether Americans or not. Friends and colleagues in their 70s, 80s, and one who just turned 100, are among those whose company I enjoy the most. Why? Is it because the elderly are wise? Maybe. Though I’ve heard it said that 

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Fitness: Always in Fashion

Dozens of organizations with information about free and low-cost fitness opportunities have been congregating at the libraries over the past few weeks. The reason? The 50+ Fitness Fairs. Think of them as a combined celebration of:

beautiful mid-Spring in New York City Earth Day Physical Fitness and Sports Month ... Read More ›

Time to Get Fit: 50+ Fitness Fairs at The Library

Spring beckons: warmer weather teases; suggestions of summer intrude; promises to self to get out and exercise are made.

Yes, this is the year to start seriously walking, even hiking, maybe camping! And how about trying some bicycling, tennis, or canoeing...

I’ll do it—I’m going to the library! Whaaat??? Who thinks of the library when they decide to get some exercise? Well, you should...

Allow us to be your friendly guide for your forays into fitness. Over the next four weeks the New York Public Library will be hosting four 50+ Fitness Fairs, at 

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Women over 50 Making a Difference

A while ago I had the delightful experience of hearing Dr. Gene Cohen, gerontologist, psychologist, and author, speak about the developmental stages of later adult life, as he sees them. Rather than thinking of life after 50--until death--as a single phase as others have proposed, he views the years between one’s 40s and 80s+ as encompassing several stages: Midlife Re-Evaluation; Liberation; Summing-Up; and Encore. 

His conclusion: not only can you teach an old dog new 

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Beyond Shamrocks: Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

The Big Apple will become the Green Apple very soon. On March 17th, to mark New York City’s 248th consecutive St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the green line will again be painted down the Fifth Avenue parade route. Although a lot of green will be in evidence, did you know that Ireland’s traditional color was 

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Why Wii?: Adult Gaming in the Public Library

If you're like me, perhaps you started seeing a new word recently—Wifi-- and puzzled over it, then started seeing Wii, and thought somebody must be misspelling something, and what were all these annoying intruders into the lexicon, anyway??? Well, the former is pronounced like hi-fi, is usually hyphenated, and is a type of wireless Internet service. The latter is pronounced like "Wheeeee!," and I'm sure that interjection has escaped from the mouths of many who tried the Nintendo Wii videogaming products in public libraries or elsewhere. The Wii is a video game console that 

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Encore Careers and The Purpose Prize--Start Planning your Next Chapter!

A special event will be taking place the last day of February. Encore careerists will be discussing how they ended up changing careers in mid-life, and winners of The Purpose Prize will talk about their experiences as social entrepreneurs. Curious about the Encore Career concept? I recommend Marc Freedman's book, Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life. More information is below from guest blogger, Alexandra Kent, Director of the Purpose Prize initiative of

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How Not to Fall: Getting Fit and Standing Straight in Any Weather

Early morning New York City—it’s 27 degrees out there. Brrrrr. And though the thermometer is inching up, prospects for above-freezing temperatures over the next five days don’t look good. Water in the parking lot behind my apartment building has pooled and frozen, creating a scarily shimmering scene—an ice skater’s delight but a treacherous trap for the rest of us.

Recently I heard a physical therapist speak on the topic of preventing falls, and he gave some serious food for thought. For instance, falls account for 87% of all fractures for adults 65 

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Work To Be Done: Volunteering Over 50

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done... as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. We have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

Our new president spoke these words to us yesterday, challenging 

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What do leg warmers, healthy food preparation, wrestling, and Obama’s inauguration have in common?

They are all topics of programs or workshops for adults coming up at various New York Public Library locations over the next few months!

Leg warmers will be knitted at the Chatham Square Library in Chinatown. Wakefield Library in the north Bronx will host a useful series of free food preparation workshops by Cornell University Cooperative Extension 

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New Year's Resolutions

A few weeks ago I attended an institute in Massachusetts and heard Margie E. Lachman, a professor at Brandeis University and Chair of the Department of Psychology & Lifespan Lab there, speak about cognitive and physical changes as we grow older. She was very forthright about the bad news, while being optimistic about the good news.

Let's get the bad news over with, shall we? Yes, aging does bring declines in both physical and cognitive health. But the good news is that you can increase protective factors which will minimize or even compensate for the declines.

The 

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Wisdom and Wii at the Public Library

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is the noblest; Second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. —Confucius

The New England Lifelong Access Libraries Leadership Institute took place in Newton, Massachusetts on December 1-2, 2008. Over 40 librarians from throughout New England attended, with the goal of getting tools, resources, and ideas to help them enhance public library services for older adults in their communities. I had the opportunity to attend and have written more extensive notes which you 

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