The sound of camaraderie, laughter and activity come from the pickleball courts at Monument Valley Park every morning in the summertime. The leafy downtown park boasts 153 acres of trails, ball fields, playgrounds, ponds, a pool—and 15 state-of-the-art public pickleball courts. With views of the Front Range on the horizon, the Pikes Peak Pickleball Association has no trouble keeping the courts full of players for tournaments and practice. “The PPPA has 970 registered local members, and we are one of the leading nonprofit pickleball organizations in the Rocky Mountain region,” says Joseph Johnson, president of the Pikes Peak Pickleball Association (PPPA).
It’s not uncommon at all for many of those players to have had hip or knee replacements. Though players of all ages turn out, pickleball is especially popular among seniors, and locals regularly turn out en masse for PPPA tournaments, free lessons, skills training and instructional play.
The pickleball scene is just one example of what makes Colorado Springs a favorite spot for retiring Baby Boomers. An officially-designated Age Friendly City since 2016, the Springs offers activities for all ages and levels. The designation through the World Health Organization and AARP recognizes the City of Colorado Springs’ strategic commitment to increased awareness, advocacy and initiatives around senior related issues. And it’s an important effort in the Pikes Peak region, an area projected to see its population of residents 65 and older grow by 160 percent by 2040, according to data from the Colorado State Demography Office.
“We are about halfway complete with the implementation of the first Age Friendly Colorado Springs Action Plan, which means advocating on behalf of our city’s aging population for things like multimodal transportation as well as accessible housing,” says Claire Anderson, executive director for Innovations in Aging Collaborative.
Creating even more parks and walkways that are age friendly—usable for all ages—is part of the strategic plan as well. And those efforts are lauded by the UCCS Aging Center. “Studies clearly have shown that physical activity improves cognition, and there is no better place than Colorado Springs to enjoy the outdoors,” says Dr. Magdalene Lim, director of the community mental health clinic for older adults.
The nonprofit UCCS Aging Center provides individual, group, marital, and family psychotherapy as well as assessment and consultation services to adults 55+ and their caregivers on a sliding payment scale. Lim says older adults need not start training for a marathon—any type of daily movement increases blood flow, generates energy and increases the ability to regenerate brain cells.
But physical activity is not the only local highlight for seniors. PILLAR offers 300 opportunities for lifelong learning in the liberal arts and sciences. With lectures from community leaders, living history portrayals, day trips and extended trips, there’s something for everyone.
“The best way for newcomers to get involved is go to meetups in Colorado Springs,” advises Edy Kline, an active member of the YMCA Senior Center. “Try as many meetup groups as you can to connect with other people and find what interests you.” She is involved in Colorado Springs Local Foods club where she keeps track of local farmers markets and chicken coop tours. Kline also says she likes to attend the area’s many community events and festivals.
Beverly Seibold stays involved in the dancing scene through the Broadmoor Waltz Club. “It is a great way to meet other people and have fun,” she says. Seibold also enjoys the variety of local hiking trails.
Marilyn Mercer goes to the YMCA for yoga and to the Colorado Springs Senior Center to socialize, and she has met many friends through both. The Silver Sneakers program makes YMCA membership available to seniors for little or no cost through their health insurance plans. Mercer also encourages folks to get involved in a church to meet people and get to know the community.
Evie Jones agrees and has experienced great fulfillment volunteering at church and other nonprofit organizations in her retirement. “I’ve found my purpose,” she says. “Being able to help others is my joy. Seniors have so much to give.”