We’re all getting older, but, as my dad always said, it beats the alternative. You may find it’s easy to sit around and watch TV all day but experts show that’s a recipe for an early death plus it makes the years you live seem longer. Sure, it’s great to just sit around in your PJ, sleep late, stare at the TV, and do nothing in the first weeks after you retire. There’s nothing demanding your attention, which is great. That’s the dream of every worker and the yen to do nothing grows as you get closer to retirement. But, if you stay engaged and creative at any age, you live longer and feel better. Whether retired or just looking for a new hobby, here are 5 ways to help you make the most of your golden years.
Physical activity is great for living longer and healthier, but staying engaged and creative at any age adds meaning to your life and enriches it, as you can see above. Here are some things you can do to stay engaged and creative at any age.
Stay engaged and creative at any age
When you’re younger, you’re busy juggling work, kids, spouses, family, and other activities. As you age, many of those activities dwindle. Family members die or move away, kids leave the nest, you retire, and friends fall away once your shared interests evaporate. It takes more effort to replace all these activities that consumed your days as you get older.
I found kids were an important part of meeting new people as you went to the endless circus of games, school events, and birthday parties. Once the kids get their licenses, it’s harder to meet new folks. Plus, many folks move away at some point in their retirement either to downsize, reduce their living expenses (believe me, social security doesn’t allow you to maintain your pre-retirement lifestyle), stay closer to family, or live in their dream location now that you don’t have to live near a job.
Here are some of our top recommendations for seniors looking to stay engaged and creative at any age:
5 ways to keep busy
I can only speak from my own experience, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. Here are my suggestions for staying engaged and creative at any age, although I focus on baby boomers like me.
1. Find a creative outlet
Maybe you loved to paint or draw when you were younger. I was always a writer and, now that I’m nearing retirement, I’ve started writing fiction again. You can find my stuff on Amazon, my website, or check out my Facebook page to see what I’m up to.
You can find lots of creative outlets and you don’t really have to be good at it, as long as it’s fun.
You can combine your creative outlets with more engagement. For instance, I love to crochet and our local library offers space on Friday mornings for folks to work on their projects together. There’s also a writer’s group near me and we have lunch once a week together.
2. Stay active
You don’t have to prepare for a marathon to stay active. As a matter of fact, it’s probably not a good idea to jump into something serious unless it’s something you always did. You can still take a walk, and I encourage you to get a dog who’ll remind you to get your daily exercise. They’re also great pals.
You can also find health insurance programs that pay for membership at local gyms or senior workouts. Find one that fits your activity level. For instance, a neighbor does “Silver Sneakers” which involves using chairs for stability during exercise. That fits her but I’m much younger and would find that extremely dull.
Most communities offer programs for seniors either at the senior center or somewhere else. Our local museum offers walking trails and programs for seniors (and everyone else).
3. Learn something
One of the advantages of being a woman of a certain age is that local community colleges often offer free courses. Sometimes these are extension courses that involve a small fee and anyone can register but other times it’s non-credit earning college courses. A friend of mine was taking physics classes after he retired (not my cup of tea, mind you). But, he was a statistician before he retired and his mind works in a very warped way.
You can also find lots of online courses in anything you can imagine from languages to cooking to coding. Have some fun with something.
The added benefit of learning something is that experts say it delays or prevents the onset of dementia and other brain diseases.
4. Meet new people
Some people are social butterflies. Not me. When I moved to a new city just as the pandemic hit, it was hard for me to make friends. I don’t enjoy hanging out to meet new people so I find it easier if there’s an activity involved. Many of you have friends you’ve known since forever but may face them moving away or facing death. Everyone can use new friends.
In his book, Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam talks about how technology has made it harder to form strong connections with others. Yet, that same technology can make it easier to connect.
Meetup is a great place to meet new people who share your interests. Pre-COVID, Meetup only involved face-to-face meetings but switched to virtual ones. Now, it’s a mixture of both. I belong to some walking groups, a writer’s group, a book club, and a few others that I found on Meetup.
On Nextdoor, we formed a group of women over 55 and we do organized activities with lots of time to get to know each other. We also reach out through the group to set up smaller activities by inviting people from the group to join us.
You may also find activities at your church, mosque, or synagogue.
In our mothers’ generation, women with school-age kids did all kinds of volunteer work to keep organizations alive. Now, most organizations are dying for lack of volunteers. Find organizations that reflect your interests and values. Most have a website and it’s easy to reach out to them to see if you can help with their activities. They’ll welcome you with open arms.
Remember, it’s never too late to start something new. Whether you’re looking to stay active, learn a new skill, or just have fun, there are plenty of ideas out there to help you make the most of your senior years. So why not take the leap and try something new today?
I’d love to connect
You get the most out of this content when you engage with me on Facebook or Instagram. So, head on over to follow. But, you need to share your ideas, provide feedback on what I say (even if you think it totally missed the boat), and tell me how you’re getting the most from living while gray.