Popular program promotes healthy aging

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — As members of the baby boomer generation face issues like taking care of elderly parents and their own retirement, one local program is hoping to help. 

The goal of Boomerama, a program jointly sponsored by Tri-Cap and the Arnold F. Habig Community Center, is “to help people age in a healthy way,” said Becky Beckman, director of Tri-Cap’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. Monthly “Food for Thought” lunch and learn sessions held at the Habig Center have centered on issues including senior eye diseases, reverse mortgages and even when to take the keys away from Mom and Dad.

About 15 women at Monday’s luncheon learned about the Dubois County Volunteer Center, a Tri-Cap program that will be a centralized way of connecting organizations that need help with potential volunteers. Volunteering can be a great experience for senior citizens, giving them something to look forward to each day, Beckman said.

“We’re trying to get the message out to anybody, but seniors especially (because) when people are retired they have more time for volunteering,” said speaker Paige Stradtner, who is developing the volunteer center.

Boomerama started in fall 2006 as a joint venture that included Purdue Extension-Dubois County. For a few years, the program included evening programs like learning to kayak, arrange flowers and use a digital camera, Beckman said.

Though those programs were popular for a time, interest began to drop off after a few years, Beckman said.

At that point, organizers switched to lunch and learn events, which usually draw about 25 attendees each month. Numbers have been dwindling slightly in recent months.

Jasper resident Vicki Welp, 60, rarely misses an event, however.

“It’s very educational. It’s given us a lot of good tips for seniors,” Welp said, citing a presentation about changes seniors should think about making in their homes — like moving a washer and dryer to the main level of the house to avoid falls while carrying a basket of clothes — as an example.

Older American Director Carie Dick said the program helps draw more boomer-age clientele to the Habig Center, which is one of her continuing goals.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to get people in the door for lunch, and then they see what we have to offer,” she said. “So it’s a win-win situation.”

Contact Kasey Hawrysz at khawrysz@dcherald.com.

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