As adults approach their fifties, they can generally expect 25 or more years of productive living before they have to confront the physical and mental decline traditionally associated with the very elderly. Options can abound for them – whether it’s beginning a new relationship or re-igniting an old one, starting a new business or encore career, going back to school to re-tool skills or pursue a passion, exploring the world or their own neighborhoods, or volunteering as a way to give back to their community or add meaning to their life. However, many mid-life adults also take on new responsibilities like caring for aging parents, raising grandchildren, or managing their own chronic illnesses. In keeping with the “you can have it all” philosophy that has characterized this generation, Boomers are often navigating more than one of these life options or challenges at a time.
What is noticeably absent are the clear markers, tools and supports to assist mid-life adults in managing and succeeding in this stage of their lives. With new opportunities and responsibilities come the requisite investments of time, money, and energy necessary to discover their goals and passions, develop new life plans, learn new skills, and find a balance of purpose and meaning.
Public libraries can position themselves as life option resource centers on such topics as aging and health, care-giving, small business ventures, volunteerism, tourism and travel, arts and culture, education and skill building – to name just a few. Libraries can also serve mid-life adults by being a broker to other community resources that can help Boomers navigate this new, extended stage of mid-life.