Howard County’s senior population is not only growing — it’s growing fast.
According to Dayna Brown, administrator of the Howard County Office on Aging, adults ages 65 and older are the fastest-growing segment of Howard County’s population, accounting for 65 percent of its growth over the next 25 years.
“A lot of it is attributable to not only the fact that people are living longer but the sheer numbers of the baby boomer population,” Brown says.
Seniors today are also more educated, healthier and have higher incomes and activity levels than past generations, she says. And despite retirement, they want to remain engaged.
“People want to stay in their own homes, or they want to stay in their communities for as long as possible,” Brown says.
To help seniors age in place and live healthy, active lives, Howard County businesses, agencies and senior centers offer hundreds of programs designed specifically for adults ages 50 and older, including Latin dance lessons, poker games, yoga classes, nutrition counseling, brain exercise sessions and book clubs.
We’ve narrowed the list to nine personality categories, each with activities for seniors who are far from slowing down.
Open Art Studios
Senior centers across the county, including the Glenwood 50+ Center, North Laurel 50+ Center and Ellicott City Senior Center, offer drop-in painting, arts, crafts and sewing times in their art rooms. Artists bring their own supplies and create their masterpieces while interacting with fellow seniors. In Ellicott City, expert painters hold instructional classes three times a year for a small fee. Hours and days vary by location.
Annual Caregiver Conference
Many of today’s seniors are part of a sandwich generation, meaning they are both raising a child and caring for an aging parent. To provide those seniors and other caregivers with resources and education, Howard County’s Office on Aging will host its third-annual Caregiver Conference Nov. 22 at the North Laurel Community Center. This year’s theme is “The Caregiving Journey: Making Your Way.” The conference is free, but advance registration is recommended, as breakfast and lunch are included. howardcountyaging.org
The Volunteer Center
Serving Howard County
This Columbia Association (CA) program connects potential volunteers with more than 200 local nonprofits and government agencies. The online search tool allows seniors to search for volunteer opportunities appropriate for their age group, including greeters for the American Red Cross in Columbia, drivers for the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland throughout Howard County and tour guides for the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring.
410-715-3172 or volunteerhoward.org
The Fitness Buff
Now in its second year, Cycle2Health Howard County is a peer-led bicycling club for older adults. The noncompetitive group, run by the Howard County Office on Aging, welcomes cyclists of all abilities. The weekday rides depart from locations throughout the county and vary in length and difficulty. Last year, more than 70 people participated in the club, which is designed to give participants an affordable way to exercise while exploring Howard County sights. This year, the club added N2R, a “new to riding” group that offers specialized instruction and safety clinics for beginning cyclists and those returning to riding. Cyclists for both groups must provide their own bicycles, helmets, water, spare tubes and bicycle air pumps. Annual registration costs $10. howardcountyaging.org/cycle2health
Deep Water Fitness
Participants in this Howard Community College program take to the pool’s deep end for a total body workout. Exercises focus on increasing aerobic capacity, muscular endurance and flexibility, as well as improving balance and posture by strengthening core muscles. By exercising in the water, participants avoid the impact and stress on their joints that can occur when exercising on a hard surface. The course is offered in the fall at Howard Community College’s Athletic and Fitness Center for $135. 443-518-4972
Leagues at Fairway Hills
Hit the links at Fairway Hills Golf Club in Columbia with either the men’s or women’s senior group leagues. The men’s group meets Tuesdays at 8 a.m., while the women’s group meets Mondays at 9 a.m. Both groups play 18 holes. Golfers do not need to be CA members to play, but they do need to pay $50 to join the league. Each round costs $32 a person.
The Health Nut
Howard County General Hospital offers screenings for seniors throughout the county. At the Glenwood 50+ Center, nurses check seniors’ blood pressure at 9 a.m. the second Monday of each month, while at the Ellicott City Senior Center, blood pressure screenings occur every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Starting in September, the Howard County Library System’s Savage branch screenings will be on Mondays at 10 a.m. Other screenings offered at senior centers, community centers or the hospital include diabetes, osteoporosis and stroke screenings. Or, if you want to knock out several screenings at once, check out the county Office on Aging’s 16th-annual 50 Plus Expo on Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Wilde Lake High School.
hcgh.org or howardcountymd.gov
The Lifelong Learner
Created for adults 55 and older, jGROUP is a Jewish Federation of Howard County cultural, social and educational group that meets twice a month for everything from guest speakers to movie screenings and holiday parties. The group also takes field trips at least once a year. Past trips have included art museums and television studios. Aside from the field trips, all activities are free. Advance registration is encouraged, and seniors do not need to be Jewish to participate. jGROUP meets at 11:30 a.m. the third Wednesday of the month at the Jewish Federation of Howard County in Columbia, and at 10:30 a.m. one Tuesday each month at the Bain Center. Tuesday dates vary.
410-730-4976, Ext. 103
Seniors experience college life for four days each summer through the Senior Adult Summer Institute at Howard Community College. The institute, co-sponsored by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, is held in late May or early June and includes sessions on topics ranging from art appreciation and history to music and philosophy. In 2014, tuition costs $15 a day for adults 60 and older and $18 a day for adults under age 60.
410-313-7279 or howardcc.edu
Golden Age Pass
The state Department of Natural Resources Golden Age Pass gives seniors age 62 and older free day use of any state park that charges entrance fees. In Howard County, that means Patapsco Valley State Park — a popular park with fishing and canoeing, as well as hiking, horseback and mountain bike trails. The pass saves seniors from paying in-state entrance fees of $2 per vehicle or $3 per person, depending on day and time of year. The pass is also good for half-price camping in state parks Sunday through Thursday, excluding holidays. That saves seniors anywhere from $9 to $98, depending on the campsite or shelter used. A one-time $10 service fee is required for all Golden Age Pass applications.
410-260-8186 or dnr.state.md.us
World Languages Café
The CA’s monthly World Languages Café at Wegmans gives participants a chance to speak different languages and meet others who have an interest in world cultures. At each gathering, native speakers guide conversations at more than 10 tables, with table languages ranging from Arabic, Chinese and Dutch to Korean, Russian and Spanish. Participants can practice a language they are learning, increase their fluency or just pick up useful phrases. The café occurs on the fourth Wednesday of the month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the upper level of Wegmans in Columbia.
Take a cooking class, visit world-renowned restaurants or learn about art history in France through the CA’s International Exchange Program. The program offers residents cuisine, art, music and business exchange opportunities with Columbia’s three sister cities: Cergy-Pontoise in France, Tres Cantos in Spain and Tema in Ghana. Trips, which are planned at least a year in advance, range from one to two weeks. If you are not ready to leave the country just yet, consider hosting a sister city family or group in Columbia, or join a youth summer exchange as a chaperone. Chaperones, who must be fluent in French or Spanish, live with host chaperones abroad and then host them in the United States on a future trip.
Have your say
Don’t see the activity you were looking for? You can help shape the future of senior activities in Howard County through the CA’s Senior Advisory Committee or Howard County’s Master Plan for the Aging Population.
Members of the CA committee meet once a month to discuss senior interests, needs and concerns. All meetings are open to the public. Dates and locations vary. Contact Michelle Miller at 410-715-3170 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Howard County Master Plan for the Aging Population is a 20-year plan to guide future senior services, programs and facilities. To provide input, Dayna Brown, administrator of the Office on Aging, encourages residents who are 45 and older to participate in an online survey: howardcountysurvey.com. The plan will be published in November.