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Butte Community Proves 'You’re Never Too Old To Play'

AARP Montana joined a network of aging groups in Butte to celebrate Older Americans Month. This year’s theme – Never Too Old to Play – put a spotlight on the important role older adults play in sharing their experience, wisdom, and understanding, and passing on that knowledge to other generations in a variety of significant ways.

As part of the month-long celebration, the Butte Aging Network sponsored “Never Too Old to Play” Day at Butte Plaza Mall, May 17. Professionals from healthcare and aging organizations presented on a variety of topics, including brain health, nutrition and diabetes education. Entertainment included bingo, “era music,” and performances by the Silver Bow Stompers and Fine Line Dancers and Cloggers.

In addition, the day featured fun interactive exhibits including a hoop shoot, a putting green, karate, and fly fishing demonstrations. Part of the day’s festivities included a “fun walk” with both a one-mile and a three-mile course. A resource fair featuring exhibitors ranging from nonprofits to government agencies was also open during the event.

The aim of this year’s celebrations was to recognize the value that older adults continue to bring to their communities through spirited participation in social and faith groups, service organizations, and other activities.

As large numbers of baby-boomers reach retirement age, many communities have increased their efforts to provide meaningful opportunities for older adults – many of whom remain physically and socially active through their 80s and beyond. Current trends show that people over age 60 account for an ever-growing percentage of participants in community service positions, faith-based organizations, online social networking as well as arts and recreational groups.

Lifelong participation in social, creative, and physical activities has proven health benefits, including retaining mobility, muscle mass, and cognitive abilities. But older adults are not the only ones who benefit from their engagement in community life. Studies show their interactions with family, friends, and neighbors across generations enrich the lives of everyone involved. Young people who have significant relationships with a grandparent or elder report that these relationships helped shape their values, goals, and life choices and gave them a sense of identity and roots.

Planning has already begun for next year’s event which will focus on bridging the generation gap. Research has shown that preschoolers, college students and young adults benefit from interactions with older adults. Unfortunately, many aspects of modern-day life keep these diverse age groups from being a part of each other's lives. Older adults are more likely to be active when they're with younger people, and the engagement also increases brain activity which is believed to stave off Alzheimer’s disease.

About Older Americans Month

Since 1963, communities across the nation have joined in the annual commemoration of Older Americans Month – a proud tradition that shows our nation’s commitment to celebrating the contributions and achievements of older Americans.

To find out how you can support Older Americans Month 2012 and take part in intergenerational play, contact your local Area Agency on Aging online or call 800-677-1116 to find ongoing opportunities to celebrate and support older Americans.