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Retirement years a great time to get creative


There is no better time to take up an artistic endeavor than in retirement years when more free time is available. Doing so will certainly be pleasurable and relaxing, but can also bring joy to others when the projects are given away. Some seniors have even created business opportunities with their art. Studies also show that engaging in the arts is good for your health and well-being. A study in the journal Neurology concluded that seniors who exercised their artistic muscle were 73 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment and decreased mental function than those who didn’t partake in artistic activities.

The best part is that the artistic options are nearly endless — seniors might choose to take up painting, woodworking, jewelry making, quilting, origami, knitting or even glass blowing. Something as simple as getting one of those adult coloring books is a start. We all can and should be creative; it just takes the desire to give something a try.

That’s just what 79-year-old Dave Ehline, of Castle Rock, did about 10 years ago when he realized he enjoyed woodworking while helping his son with a remodeling project. He bought some “how-to” books and began making toy cars. Today he makes about a hundred cars a month, goes to long-term care homes to have residents put the wheels on the cars, and then he gives them all away. He donates to “Toys for God’s Kids,” auctions at New Hope Presbyterian Church, his senior center, and even gives them out randomly to children while at restaurants. Dave loves bringing smiles and believes that everyone can be a blessing to somebody. “Giving these cars away makes me feel like I still have a purpose and do not just exist,” he said.

Jean DiBartolomeo, 90, believes that seniors must keep their minds sharp because the brain is a living object. She says she feeds her body with food and her brain with crocheting. Growing up in the Depression, women taught girls useful skills like how to crochet, but it was a hobby she had given up completely during her working years. A number of years ago she started attending the “Knit and Crochet Group” at the Castle Rock Senior Activity Center to keep busy. She found her niche in making baby items, from booties and bonnets, to entire baby Broncos sets. “I now crochet every day,” she said. “As I work, I picture those beautiful eyes of the baby who will wear it, and I pray for that child to have a good life.” Those baby items, special enough to become family heirlooms, are worn by little ones throughout the Denver area through the donations she’s made to the “Newborns in Need” program at Denver Health and other places.

You can take home items specially handcrafted by Dave and Jean, along with many other seniors, at the Castle Rock Senior Activity Center booth at the biggest craft event in the area, the 25th Anniversary Castle Rock Craft Show Extraordinaire. It is on Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Douglas County Events Center in Castle Rock. The show’s proceeds provide services and programs for area seniors. There will be 150 booths featuring artisans from all over selling unique handcrafted items. Stop by and get inspired to do your own crafting because it’s time to get creative.

Deb Santy is the assistant director of the Castle Rock Senior Activity Center. This column is hosted by the Seniors Council of Douglas County. Please join us for our next meeting on Nov. 2 at the Parker Library, 20105 East Mainstreet, Parker. Our presentation and community conversation will begin at 10:15 a.m. For more information, please visit MyDougCoSeniorLife.com, email DCSeniorLife@douglas.co.us or call 303-663-7681.


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