Amarillo City Councilman Eddy Sauer proclaimed May as Older American Celebration Month Friday morning at Region 16 during the Amarillo Agency on Aging's annual celebration of the older population.

"The way I look at it, this is the most important time of your life to put wisdom back in the city," Sauer said. "There's one thing that only time and age give you and that's wisdom. That is what we as a community and we as a city need, we need your wisdom and we need for you to stay involved."

It was a day of information, fun and games, with Andy Justus serving as Master of Ceremonies and Amarillo Globe-News' own Jon Mark Beilue as guest speaker; 12 organizations passed out personalized swag and information including Amarillo Senior Citizens Association, Senior Ambassadors Coalition, BSA Home Care and Hospice, Accolade Home Care and Hospice, SkyWest Assisted Living, Brookdale Senior Living, Baptist Community Services, Northwest Texas Hospital Senior Advantage Program and The Craig, who also provided an enchilada lunch. 

"They're here so we can engage people in those different community activities and groups," said Lisa Hancock, AAA public education and volunteer specialist. "We all work together. These are non-profit and for-profit agencies working together for the good of all of our aging population in the panhandle."

This is the ninth year AAA has participated in the national celebration of the aging population.

"This year we're breaking records, we've got 198 people registered and I've heard several that just came, so we may end up with over 200 this year," Hancock said.

Themed "Engage at Every Age" Hancock said staying engaged with ones community is vital at every age but especially for the older population.

"It seems to be that people who stay engaged with their community, they age better -- there's less sickness, there's less depression and things like that," she said. "For people that have addiction problems ... it's a proven fact that if you stay engaged with your community you can stay off of drugs and alcohol longer (because) it makes them more accountable to people that care about them.

"I tell people, aging is a good thing. If you don't age, you're dead, so be grateful for everyday."

As the featured guest speaker, Beilue read excerpts from some of his columns featuring older people who defied stereotypical expectations.

"I get a little bit of inspiration in seeing people who quote unquote, don't act their age," he said. "Society sometimes thinks, 'You're too old to do that,' so I'm going to talk about older people not acting old. It's never too late to do the right thing and (you're) not held prisoner by the calendar.

"I think people should try to push themselves a little bit and challenge themselves within reason whether that be hobbies, physically, mentally -- learning a new language -- the bottom line is don't be a slave to the calendar, don't think because I'm this age I can't do this or shouldn't be doing that."

By the numbers

In 2017 Nearly 32 percent of Amarillo's population was over 50

Breakdown by age groups:

Aged 50-54  5.9 percent

          55-59 6.1 percent

          60-64 5.5 percent

          65-69 4.6 percent

          70-74 3.4 percent

          75-79 2.5 percent

          80-84 1.8 percent

          85+    1.9 percent

Information provided by the City of Amarillo