Aging Well May 8th

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

As we age why don’t we play as much – we certainly have the time. Are we too tired, too cautious or too self-conscious? Or are we looking for types of play that are more adult, more challenging and finding too few opportunities?

May is Older Americans Month and this year’s theme “Never too Old to Play” tries to dispel the common perception that play, like Trix cereal, “are just for kids”. Instead it promotes the idea that play is a vital component of healthy aging.

There is not a clear definition of play, but it is often described as doing something “just for the sake of it”. And it can include social play, imaginative play and physical play. But even though the understanding of play is unclear, there has developed a greater appreciation of the value of play for all ages – including older adults.

Dr. Stuart Brown, director of the National Institute for Play, believes play has an important physiological and neurological function – just like sleep and dreams. And our bodies are designed to play throughout our lifetime. And why not? Play offers a chance for anyone at any age to explore new imaginative worlds and engage in new social and physical activities – providing many personal benefits including greater social interaction and increased optimism. By expressing yourself, play also offers control, choice and freedom – which are often gradually lost as you get older.

Think back over your life – what types of play did you enjoy? You may no longer be that twelve year old playing kick –the-can on a hot humid night in Indiana, but use those playful memories to find something fun (and maybe crazy) to do now – just for the sake of it. And if your kids think you are nuts – all the better. Just tell them they need to grow up.

The Center’s 11:00 Tuesday Lecture on the 15th is “Educate before you Medicate” a special presentation made possible through a grant received by YOUTHTHINK. From this presentation you will learn the importance of informing your health care provider, dentist and pharmacist about all the prescription medicines, over the counter drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements you are using (in other words, any pill you stick down your throat!); how to ask the appropriate questions to make sure you avoid the dangers of unsafe combination of medicines; and how to use a medicine record form to keep track of the prescription medicines and any other pills you take.

Once again the Center is moving through the monthly dance card with Martin and Friends performing tonight and Truman playing on the 15th. Join one of the Center’s most popular activities with forty to sixty folks listening and dancing the night away. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, everyone is invited and donations are suggested.

Every week my mailbox is stuffed with answers to the weekly “Remember When” question – well, not exactly – but that isn’t my goal (although I do appreciate the emails and phone calls). Rather, I hope each week’s question might uncover forgotten memories tucked away: screaming at the Beatles in Portland, reading the Whole Earth Catalogue during your bell bottom, bead wearing days, or listening to Guy Lombardo on New Year’s Eve. As important as it is to explore new knowledge and experiences, it is also important for your brain health to recall the emotional memories of past experiences that make us the social beings we are. Test yourself each week, but I also hope each question brings back fond memories of “once upon a time”.

And did you remember the “Rumble in the Jungle”? – the heavyweight title fight between George Forman and Mohammad Ali held in Zaire when Ali used the rope-a-dope to knock out George Foreman. (The winner of a free Saturday breakfast is Kathy Shebley.)

This week’s “Remember When” question may bring back memories of the “generation gap” during the sixties. What was the name of the musician that shocked the world and angered many fans when he played an electric set of music at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival? Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or include it with a map of Highway 61 from Minnesota to New Orleans.

Well, it has been another week riding shotgun in the 56’ Chevy of life. Until we meet again, keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and don’t take your foot off the gas.

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