Check Out How Exciting the Senior Years Can be at the Ages ‘n Stages Expo

February 21, 2012

By Teya Vitu

You see it every day these days, older adults running marathons, riding in the El Tour de Tucson – living active, vigorous lives on their own, often fitter than their younger compatriots.

Retirement age no longer means retiring from the essence of an active life. On the contrary, the Mature Generation (pre-Baby Boomers) has forged a new phrase for the lexicon: “active adult lifestyle.”

And the 77 million Baby Boomers, the first of whom just started turning 65 last year, will completely change the face of what becoming older means over the next 25 years.

Still, mainstream events trend to a younger audience. That changes March 2-3 with the Ages ‘n Stages Active Adult Lifestyle Show put on by the Pima Council on Aging.

This trade show geared toward the 45-plus age group takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the Tucson Convention Center. Admission is free.

There will be 125 booths covering subjects you’d expect (assisted living, retirement centers, medical centers and medical equipment), but Ages ‘n Stages is much more about active lives. Exhibitions will touch on arts, dance, fashions, movement, outdoor leisure activities, travel.

You can learn pretty much every dance needed for “Dancing With the Stars,” and you can learn an array of exercises. You can get a chair massage and learn the basics to improve your flexibility.

On top of that, three stages will offer some sort of entertainment all day long. Mariachi music by Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School, soul by Kevin and Tanishia Hamilton, jazz, Ballet Folklorico, Elvis and Johnny Cash tributes by Robert Shaw and much more will be dished out.

“This is the first time there has been an active adult lifestyle expo in this community. We’re cutting new ground here,” said Adina Wingate, marketing director at the Pima Council on Aging.

This is the biggest event ever put on by the Pima Council on Aging. Attendance could be as high as 10,000 to 20,000.

Just about any entity in the community even vaguely connected to the older set either has a booth or is a sponsor. Richard Carmona is the event chair.

Ages ‘n Stages is the most comprehensive one-stop shop Tucson has ever had for its older population. You can essentially build a lifestyle at the show or, at any rate, fine-tune your senior lifestyle.

The event will showcase just how dramatically life has changed for older generations in recent decades.

“The show is an expression of this long, incremental shift of the last 25 years,” Wingate said. “Within the last 25 years, there has been more of an emergence on the individual’s focus on fitness, wellness and physical activity. This is about breaking the mold. People are saying ‘I have always been physically active. I will continue to do this.’”

Coupled with the increased physical fitness is a similar quest for continued independence.

“You will find the vast majority of older adults, 70 years or older, say out load and affirmatively ‘I choose to age at home,’” Wingate said. “I think it’s been actively discussed for 15 years. The whole concept of aging in place at home is a huge trend that shapes the way homes are built and designed.”

Ages ‘n Stages is billed as “family friendly” with, perhaps, a different twist to the term “family friendly.” Parents with young children may well find value at the show, but Ages ‘n Stages is especially relevant for adult children and their parents.

“We really do see people who are in their mid-40s coming through the door every day at the Pima Council on Aging,” Wingate said. “More and more, we are seeing younger adults coming in to find out how they can help their parents. The caregiver is the adult child. They are raising their own family, holding down a job and taking care of an aging parent. They are known as the Sandwich Generation.”

The Jim Click Automotive Team is the title sponsor, the Arizona Daily Star is the media sponsor and Providence Service Corp. is the third major sponsor. Any time the Providence names comes up, its founder and CEO Fletcher McCusker isn’t far behind.

McCusker is the force behind 2nd Saturdays and the Arizona Centennial Celebration. He and Jim Murphy, CEO of the Pima Council on Aging, got to talking, and before you knew it, McCusker talked yet someone else into staging an event Downtown.

Ages ‘n Stages also serves as a major fund-raiser for the Pima Council on Aging, a non-profit agency with the mission to promote dignity and respect for aging, which saw a cut in funding of $1 million in July.

“This is not a one-time event,” Wingate said. “The idea is to keep on growing this. This is a way to celebrate being a grownup.”