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Older Americans Month 2012 – Never Too Old to Play!

May is Older Americans Month, a perfect opportunity to show our appreciation for the older adults in our community. This year’s theme, “Never Too Old to Play!” puts a spotlight on the important role older adults play in sharing their experience, wisdom, understanding, and passing that knowledge to other generations in a variety of significant ways.

It also celebrates and promotes intergenerational engagement and recreation.

Coincidentally several counties in our region have just completed or are wrapping up the annual Senior Games events during May. The Neuse River Senior Games, which serves six counties: Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, and Pamlico was a great representation of intergenerational engagement. “We had several Cherry Point Marines who volunteered to score the various games. One volunteer brought a three-year old child; having the different age groups together seemed to bring a sense of happiness to everyone,” said Tonya Cedars, Eastern Carolina Council Area Agency on Aging Director, “it was intergenerational engagement at its best with the young Marines cheering the participants, the older adults hugging that little boy, and of course the toddler loved the attention!”

As baby boomers reach retirement age, many communities have increased their efforts to provide meaningful opportunities for this population. Current trends show that people aged 60 and better account for an ever growing percentage of participants in community service positions, the arts, and recreational groups. Lifelong participation in social, creative, and physical activities has proven health benefits, including retaining mobility, muscle mass, and cognitive abilities.

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 report that these connections help shape their values, goals, life choices, and gave them a sense of identity and roots.

Older Americans Month is a great opportunity to show special appreciation for some of our most beloved citizens. We have many reasons to celebrate them!

ECCAAA is part of a national network of organizations established to respond to the needs of older adults. The ECCAAA plans, coordinates, and develops services for adults aged 60 or better, family caregivers of older adults and older adults living in long term care facilities according to mandates in the Older Americans Act.

Our agency strives to secure, promote, and provide essential services to enhance the quality of life in a changing society. We meet this challenge through advocacy, coordination, building alliances, and promoting public awareness guided by integrity, vision, and sustained commitment. We serve nine counties: Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, and Wayne.

Submitted by: Jillian Hardin, MPA, CIRS-A, Aging Specialist, Eastern Carolina Council Area Agency on Aging, 233 Middle Street, New Bern