Silver Threads: Senior Fest

Bettye Anding (Photo by: Jason Kruppa)

When I read about Senior Fest 2017, to be held next week at the UNO Lakefront Area, I remembered the woman who told me she wanted to move to New Orleans because “you can dance in the streets here when you’re 90 and nobody cares.”

 
I wrote a column about that a couple of years ago, remarking from personal experience that they’d have to have portable potties and plenty of chairs on hand should we older people like her decide to second line.
 
But I digress. Did you know that this month is Older Americans Month and I’ve already missed two weeks of it? Never mind, I’m good at playing catch-up, especially since this year’s theme is “Age Out Loud.”
 
The May 25th festival at UNO will be hosted by the New Orleans Council on Aging (821-4121 and  online at administration@nocoa.org on). Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) are local aging programs that provide information and services on a range of assistance for older adults and those who care for them. By contacting your local agency you get access to critical information including:
▪Available services in your area
▪Mobility assistance programs, meal plans and housing
▪Assistance in gaining access to services
▪Individual counseling, support groups and caregiver training
▪Respite care
▪Supplemental services, on a limited basis
 
But we older folks need to be both educated and entertained while I’m sure you’ll get some of both at the fest, there’s another group in town that takes care of that. Its own town’s People Programs that take place on weekdays at two convenient sites in Greater New Orleans— one at 2240 Lakeshore Dr. and the other on the West Bank, 6201 Stratford Place (Holy Spirit Catholic Church).
 
“One of the best kept secrets in New Orleans, People Program is a non-profit membership organization for persons 50 years old and over who are looking for creative ways to spend leisure time.  Sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph, currently there are almost 500 members enrolled of diverse backgrounds, ranging from ages 50 to 90,” reads the website.
 
“Over 100 varied courses are offered and include exercise, computer, dance, art, needlework, crafts, games, languages, music, and more.  For a flat membership fee of $150 a semester, you can take as many classes as you’d like at both campuses.”
 
I’ve been a People’s Program regular on Wednesdays for a few years, taking a course in painting with acrylics for a couple of years and enjoying it but giving up on my talent for visual arts after a while. The course I stuck with was in short fiction; we used a wonderful collection of stories by writers such as Faulkner, Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Mark Twain  and the like, engaging in animated discussions as to what we liked, didn’t, and why.
 
I’ve made interesting and warm friends in all the sessions and look forward to the fall, when the class will begin with a new book and new stories. and, I hope, with some of the same people.
 
For me, it’s every bit as much fun as dancing in the streets.