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Bill Brown strutted with his cane around the designated bid whist room at the Camp Spring Senior Activity Center, waiting on his opportunity to get back to the card table and win.
Brown, the 96-year-old World War II veteran, soon returned to the table, all the while talking some friendly trash to the other competitors.
“You sure you can play? I don’t want to hurt you, now,” he said to one opponent with a wry smile.
Brown and about seven dozen other bid whist fanatics age 60 and older show up about twice a week as a way to not only enjoy themselves, but also keep themselves mentally active.
They’re among the thousands of other seniors recognized nationwide as a part of Older Americans Month.
The monthly celebration in May administered by the Administration on Community Living, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, selected this year’s theme, “Age Out Loud.”
Seniors were acknowledged by the late President John F. Kennedy and National Council of Senior Citizens in 1963 with the designation of May as Senior Citizens Month. During that time, about 17 million Americans turned 65 years old. That number now is roughly 40 million.
The Administration on Aging compiled its most recent report — “A Profile of Older Americans: 2016” — that shows millions of seniors are not only healthy, but 93 percent received Medicare coverage. President Donald Trump has proposed possible cuts to the health care program.
The most recent data from the report (http://bit.ly/2rIWc9x) is from 2015.
Some other national statistics:
• Between 2005 and 2015, those 60 and older increased from nearly 50 million to almost 67 million, or 34 percent;
• Those 85 and older are projected to triple from six million in 2015 to about 15 million in 2040; and
• In 2015, 22 percent of those 65 and older are people of color with nine percent being black.
Maryland joined 20 others states whose senior population increased by at least 30 percent between 2005 to 2015. The state ranked 20th with nearly 850,000 seniors of those 65 and older.
According to 2015 U.S. Census data, almost 15 percent of that age group resided in Prince George’s County, about a 2 percent increase from 2010.
Theresa Grant, administrator for the county’s Area Agency on Aging, said about 140,000 of the county’s 908,000 people are 60 and older. Dozens of programs in the county such as computer classes, health seminars and weekly walks are geared toward that age group.
A free senior health and fitness day took place Wednesday, May 24 at the Sports and Learning Complex in Landover. Registration began May 15 for county seniors to purchase $30 tickets to attend a line dance party July 19 at Martins Crosswinds in Greenbelt.
“Unlike when I started to work in the area of aging, we used to tell folks what we have. Now we figure out what they need,” Grant said. “It’s the aging of the baby boomers, advancement of medicine. We have seniors who are living longer and are involved in civic engagement, involved as caregivers. You have to really plan out what retirement looks like for you.”
A day after aggressive bid whist players filled the activity room in Camp Springs, 11 women stretched, kicked, sweated and laughed across the hall as merengue, dancehall and reggaetón blasted through a speaker in a 45-minute Zumba class.
Tyra L. Pointer led the class and provided at least three water breaks that lasted about 30 seconds each.
“[Zumba] is absolutely fantastic,” said Wilsie Minor, 66, of Fort Washington, who retired last year as a lawyer with the Cooperation for National and Community Service in Southwest. “With Zumba, you don’t have to take yourself seriously. It’s about feeling great and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”