Last week I spoke to a meeting of the Age-Friendly Subcommittee of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC). The MMC is a longstanding membership organization of the Chicago region’s 275 cities, towns and villages. The newly formed Age-Friendly Subcommittee is chaired by River Forest President Cathy Aducci.
President Aducci asked me to speak to the need for our elected leadership and their support staff to think outside the box in regard to aging and our rapidly changing demographics.
Here are a few of the stats I shared:
Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, in her book, Disrupt Aging, points out that we have added more longevity to our species since the year 1900 than in all previous eras.
Average U.S. life expectancy increased from 68 years in 1950 to 79 years in 2013. Today, if you live to age 65, you’ll probably live to 85.
The number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million in 2016 to over 98 million by 2060.
By 2029, 54% of middle-income older adults will not be able to afford senior living.
My presentation to the MMC subcommittee was admittedly one-sided and did not touch on myriad opportunities provided by our aging process. This was mainly because today’s programs regarding aging are mostly unsustainable given the numbers we are seeing, as well as the stark economic realities facing older people.
We can’t just do more, we have to do different.
Summer day camp for older people
One local example of thinking outside the box is the Summer Camp for Seniors being hosted this August by the Center for Gerontology at Concordia University Chicago, located in River Forest.
Under the leadership of Dr. John Holton, director of the Center for Gerontology, this is a terrific opportunity for older people to connect, have fun and socialize in a meaningful way in an environment built for us.
A first for our area, this summer day camp is for any person over the age of 60 who is able to participate in the scheduled camp activities, which consist of classes and electives, including yoga and Zumba, art, history, nutrition, spices and herbs, memoir writing, and even a field trip, with T-shirts and hats. Each camper will be able to choose which classes to attend.
Members of the Concordia Faculty will be offering the classes for Zumba, yoga, and art. Concordia students who work in the Child Education Center will act as camp counselors. Also, other local residents will be presenting electives. (Rumor has it that there just might be some Conscious Aging Workshops available.)
The camp will run from Monday, Aug. 5 through Friday, Aug. 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will be located at the Christopher Center for Learning, 7400 Augusta Ave., River Forest.
Summer Camp for Seniors 2019 is sponsored and hosted by Concordia University Chicago’s Center for Gerontology with College of Innovation and Professional Programs, in partnership with AgeOptions, the Senior Services Program of Oak Park and River Forest townships, and the Scottish Home/Caledonia House.
Sign up early; spots are going fast! For information contact camp director Carol Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Marc Blesoff is a former Oak Park village trustee, co-founder of the Windmills softball organization, co-creator of Sunday Night Dinner, a retired criminal defense attorney, and a novice beekeeper. He currently facilitates Conscious Aging Workshops and Wise Aging Workshops in the Chicago area.