Young people aren’t the only Denverites who now have free access to the city’s 27 (soon to be 28) rec centers. Today Mayor Michael Hancock announced My Denver Prime, a new program that will give residents 60 and older open access to the city’s many public pools, gyms and healthy activities. Starting today, a Denver resident over 60 need only flash a photo ID to enter and stay active.
This is about more than simple exercise
Since 2000, Colorado’s senior population (65 and older) has grown faster than its total population. As of 2015, Baby Boomers and Millennials were nearly neck-and-neck in total population and numbers of people in the workforce (Boomers actually outrank Millennials on both counts). The Denver Commission on Aging estimates that 1 in 4 Denverites will be over 60 by 2030.
That growth means changes to the city that might not seem obvious at first glance. Think about large swaths of mature, potentially unemployed people across Denver: there will be more traffic during the day, more need for service workers and growing strain on healthcare systems.
These multiple facets are reasons why the city has taken a holistic approach to preempting potential problems, said Maureen Spiegleman, incoming chair of the Commission on Aging. The city, she said, is gearing up to release a new survey of needs for which they interviewed every department and agency.
“We believe older residents are a natural resource whose talents and contributions to the life of Denver are fundamental to its health and vitality,” Spiegleman said to a group of advocates inside the Montclair Rec Center gym. “Many attributes that make Denver friendlier to older adults also will enhance its livability for all ages.”
Crucially, she said, Denver Prime will help curb rising healthcare spending.
“The more active a senior is, the less medical ills that we have to attend to,” said Spiegleman, who spent a career in finance and likes “getting into the weeds.” A few hours of exercise, she said, “makes a tremendous difference, dollar-wise.”
That encompasses more than just working out. Social support and inclusion, she said, are among the key determinants of health outlined by the World Health Organization. Getting aging adults to mingle with the young people Denver has already ushered in is just as important to longevity and as lifting weights.
Plus, she said, that kind of social interaction makes getting out more fun, all the more reason to open the floodgates for Denver’s public facilities.
Correction: The name of the post-press-conference program was changed from the incorrect “Silver Sneaker” to the correct “SilverSneakers.”