Creative Aging: An Invitation to PLAY

by Kathryn Larlee, J.D., Hotline Attorney

happycouple17.jpg“The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune.”  Irish Proverb

Getting older can be fraught with difficulties and perhaps a wee bit of fear. According to many researchers, including aging psychotherapist, Kyrie Sue Carpenter, this stage of life is treated as a pathological condition, one that must be fought with all the “anti-aging” weapons that one can afford to muster.

This fear of aging, however, is cultural, says Kyrie, and “[a] lot of suffering comes from fighting aging.” Aging is a natural process and offers the opportunity to continue to develop and to grow. Kyrie proposes the practice of PLAY:

  • PACING—Be sensitive to your pace for activities
  • LIFE STORY—Relationship and community provide an immediate sense of identity, more so than accomplishments
  • AESTHETICS—Sing, dance, paint, draw, act, write …. The nice thing about art is that it does not have to be practical or useful
  • YOUR PERSPECTIVE—Curiosity and questions — life teaches us that there are no easy answers, and there are many ways of knowing something; one person might understand through mathematical equations, another through emotions, or one might understand through music.

This simple practice, Kyrie hopes, will engender a culture that accepts and even values the process of aging, and gives value and purpose to its elders.

In Michigan, the Hannan Center for Creative Aging in Detroit, provides many programs for people over the age of 60. Participants can take ongoing classes in art and wellness, and also have the opportunity to share their work through poetry readings and gallery exhibitions.

The National Center for Creative Aging offers many resources for organizations that want to develop an arts program in their area, and also provides information on locating arts programs that might be in your area.

Your local Area Agency on Aging also may have information about art programs and resources that might provide transportation as well.

For a bit more than 10 years now, researchers, libraries, and professionals have been designing and testing creative aging programs. The good news is that these programs have a positive impact on the lives of everyone involved.


Kate LarleeKathryn Larlee is a licensed Michigan attorney at Elder Law of Michigan, and has been a member of the Elder Law team since June 2013.  Kathryn started as an intern in 2013 and was hired full time at Elm in August, 2014.

Before joining the Elder Law of Michigan team, she served as a clinician with MSU’s Chance at Childhood Clinic. At the clinic she did guardianship reviews, child custody evaluations, supervised parenting time, and represented clients in family matters under the supervision of an attorney.

Kathryn Larlee is a licensed Michigan attorney who assists the Mid-America Pension Rights Project with research, appeals, and client support. Ms. Larlee also works on the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors providing advice and support to seniors on a wide range of legal issues.

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