The Silver Knights
The traditional and outdated image of chess players to many of our non chess-playing friends is one of old gentlemen sitting stooped over, facing one another over a chess board in a crowded and smoky room. This caricature has never really been true, but is even less likely to represent reality in the modern chess era where you are more likely to meet an 8 year old playing chess than an eighty year old.
However, despite the cult of youth in today's chess culture, with top players being regarded as past it by the time they are in their 30's (let alone in their 70's like the great Viktor Korchnoi, pictured), the grass roots of the game are filled with players of all ages. The nature of chess as a mental game renders age immaterial as two minds battle their ideas across the chessboard.
I recently came across a link to organisation called The Silver Knights (hat tip to Robert Pearson). The Silver Knights are a charitable organisation dedicated to helping prevent Alzheimer's Disease by teaching and playing chess with senior citizens. Research has shown that mental activities like solving crossword puzzles, playing a musical instrument or playing games like chess or bridge has a measurable effect on reducing the incidence of Alzheimer's.
I think the Silver Knight's organisation is well worth supporting and if any chess.com members living in the US (that's about 43% of the total, the last time I checked!) would like to offer their help, I'm sure it would be much appreciated and rewarding. For those not in the US, I'm sure a purchase of their merchandise or a donation would be welcomed.
I'm looking forward to playing chess as I grow older, and hope that it helps keep my mind active. Use it or lose it! Sadly, my attempts at playing a musical instrument are even worse than my chess.