The population of adults over 65 in the US is increasing rapidly, and this growing population has an important need for reliable health information. According to The State of Aging and Health in America 2013 from the CDC, “two factors—longer life spans and aging baby boomers—will combine to double the population of Americans aged 65 years or older during the next 25 years to about 72 million.” Another sobering statistic from the report states “two out of every three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions.” The bottom line is that more older adults will be seeking health information in the coming years about a variety of chronic conditions, and librarians should be ready. Librarians aren’t doctors and can’t begin to take the place of healthcare professionals, but we can guide older adults and their caregivers to reliable websites where they can find basic diagnosis and treatment information, which they can use to begin discussions with their physicians.
Here are a few of my favorite government websites that share helpful and trustworthy information on a broad variety of health conditions and services targeted towards older adults:
- NIH Senior Health – This site is extremely user-friendly (with options to enlarge text size and change color contrast for easier readability) and has reliable health information from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), both part of the National Institute of Health (NIH). Browse or search through health topics and videos with a focus on health conditions important to older adults. There’s even a great toolkit for trainers to teach older adults how to access reliable health information online.
- National Institute on Aging A-Z Health Topics Index – Browse health topics relevant to older adults, ranging from Advance Directives to Vascular Dementia, and find printable fact sheets, guides, and reports related to these topics.
- Eldercare Locator – Use this resource from the Administration on Aging to search for local resources (search by zip code or city/state) or find services and information related to topics like Adult Day Program, Alzheimer’s Disease, Behavioral Health, etc. Online chat and a phone number (1-800-677-1116) are also available to contact.
A few others to note: CDC Healthy Aging has resources for advance care planning, chronic disease management, emergency preparedness, and more. LongTermCare.gov has helpful information on planning and paying for long-term care.