PRAIRIE FIVE LIVE WELL AGING WISELY: Book Bags Available for Residents in Service Area


By Laura Thomas, Director of Aging Well at Prairie Five Community Action Council

Funded in part by the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging and the Southwest Initiative Foundation, a new education initiative at Prairie Five is Book Bags!

I love the opportunity to speak at different groups and gatherings - it’s fun to connect with people and I always end up being inspired or learning something, too. Last fall, I was at a study club in Benson and after reflecting on a conversation had the idea to create Book Bags – bags with 15 copies of one book title and a discussion guide. The Book Bags can be checked out for a month at a time and are perfect for study groups, book clubs, coffee friends or any other groups who enjoy reading, pondering, and learning!

A few years ago, I wrote about The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, a book about with the subtitle How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter. The PDF with more information on the topic was one of the most requested items I’ve offered! And for good reason, decluttering or downsizing is something that most people face while aging. Author Margareta Magnusson’s approach is described like this: “Her radical and cheerful method helps families broach sensitive conversations and makes the process uplifting instead of overwhelming. Along the way readers get a glimpse into her life in Sweden and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.” I knew this would be the perfect book for the first Book Bag.

The second Book Bag has The Gift of Aging: Growing Older with Purpose, Planning and Positivity and was written by Marcy Coutrell Houle and Elizabeth Eckstrom. It’s described as being “packed with research-based strategies and motivating stories of elders that can help make growing older the most meaningful ride of a lifetime.” It covers all facets of life and includes information and inspiration beneficial to anyone at any age. I love that the book is divided into many short chapters – it lends itself well to each group member reading a couple and sharing what they found most meaningful.

The third Book Bag title is I’ve Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You’re Old. The author, David Berstein, M.D., is a geriatrician who writes about what to expect in your 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and beyond. Each chapter includes notes on living well and a resource section providing topic-specific information. It includes many stories and real patient experiences to explore the influence that aging has on the physical, mental, and social facets of life.

If you are interested in checking out a Book Bag or learning more, I would love to hear from you! If you belong to a group who may be interested, I’d be happy to bring the titles for your perusal. Book Bags are available for checkout to residents of Prairie Five’s service area: Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Swift, and Yellow Medicine counties. You can reach me at 320-226-8861 or by email at

Previously, I wrote about two books available at no cost to residents in Prairie Five’s service area: Walk with Ease and Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer’s Journey. There are still copies of each so don’t hesitate to call 320-226-8861 or email to request one.