Showing posts with label activities for senior citizens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label activities for senior citizens. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Friends and Family Prolong Your Life

Are you looking for a fun, easy way to live longer?  According to research done at the University of California in San Francisco, and reported in the AARP Bulletin, spending more time with your friends and family can increase your life expectancy.  This is especially true since the Covid pandemic, when many people stopped socializing and some of them have never returned to the amount of socialization they did before.

The researchers followed 1,600 adults who had an average age of 71 at the beginning of the study.  They took into consideration their socioeconomic status and their overall health.  Those people who self-identified as being lonely consistently died at a higher frequency over the six years of the study.  During that period of time, 23 percent of the lonely people died; only 14 percent of those who were satisfied with their level of companionship died.

How Retirees can Increase their Socialization

Since loneliness can contribute to early death, it is important we take steps to make sure we do not become too isolated as we age ... which is easy to do when we no longer go to a job.  Below are a few suggestions for increasing the time we spend around other people, particularly after we retire.

1.  If you have relatives nearby, make sure you reach out to them and try to spend time together.  Your adult children and grandchildren can immeasurably enrich your life.  If you are not retired yet, but have older relatives or siblings who live in your area, plan activities which include them.

2.   If you live in a mixed age community and no longer spend much time with your neighbors, make an effort to get to know them.  An occasional block party or neighborhood ice cream social benefits people of all ages.

3.   Find out if your community has a senior center.  They often have exercise classes, parties, dances and, sometimes, low-cost lunches which seniors can enjoy in the company of other people.

4.   Call your local community college to see if they offer classes for senior citizens.  Many colleges offer emeritus classes which are either free or very low cost.  Going to classes which you enjoy is a fun way to meet other people with similar interests.  Suggest a few of you go out to lunch or for coffee either before or after your classes so you can get to know each other better. 

5.    Make an effort to join a club, organization or place of worship.  Participating in these organizations can help you stay connected with other people.  The more involved you are, the better off you will be.  It is not enough to attend an occasional club meeting or church service.  Volunteer.  Join a committee.  Go to social events.  These experiences will enrich your life.

6.  Regularly speak with your friends and neighbors.  You may even want to set up a specific time every day, or several times a week, when you call and chat with a friend.  If one of you doesn't answer and there is no explanation for the absence, agree that you will contact family members, a neighbor, or local police so someone will do a "welfare check" on you.  It will bring you and your friends peace-of-mind if you all know that you are looking out for each other.

7.   Do not rebel against the idea of moving to an independent or assisted living facility.  While some people still have a negative image of these living arrangements, sometimes comparing them to old-style nursing homes, the truth is that most people thrive in these facilities.  Today's senior housing facilities have a wide variety of fun amenities and provide an excellent opportunity to socialize and make friends.

Remember:  Being sociable not only makes you happier and improves your outlook, but can prolong your life.  The more involved you are with other people on a regular basis, the better off you will be.

If you want to learn more about common health issues as we age, financial planning, where to retire, changing family relationships, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mental and Social Planning for Retirement

No matter how much money you may have saved towards your future, there is more to retirement planning than simply having enough income.  You also need to give some thought to your goals, social needs, activities, where you want to live and how you want to spend your life after retirement.

Many people will live between 20 and 30 years after they stop working.  A few could even live as long as 40 years after retirement.  That is a long time to spend sitting around, watching TV.  Instead of being bored for decades, this is a time when you can choose to make a difference in the lives of others, live passionately and enjoy the years you have left.  What will you do when you retire?

How to Have an Emotionally Satisfying Retirement

Put Together a "Bucket List" - What things have you always hoped to do in life, but never had the time?  Is there someplace you always wanted to visit?  Have you dreamed of taking art or music lessons? Play in a band? Travel around in an RV? Live on a sailboat?  Move to another country?  Write a novel?  Join the Peace Corp?  Nearly everyone has a secret dream which they never had the time to fulfill.  Think of retirement as your opportunity to pursue your goals.  Do research on what you need to to do in order to achieve at least one of your goals ... and possibly more. You can even start working on your bucket list before you actually retire.

Decide Where You Want to Retire -  While the majority of people at least start out their retirement living in their pre-retirement home, many people will eventually move either to a retirement community, assisted living or someplace closer to their children and grandchildren.  When the time comes, where would you like to retire?  Not only do you want to choose a place which is safe, comfortable and easily accessible as you age, you will also want to take into consideration your emotional health.  Will you be near people you love?  Will you be able to engage in activities you enjoy?  Is it near a hospital and your doctor? Is it safe and walkable? These are all important aspects of choosing a retirement home.

Plan a Social Life - Whether you decide to live near your family or in a dream location, it is very important that you maintain a social life.  It has been shown repeatedly that people who have an active social life are less likely to develop dementia or other health problems.  Decide what activities are important to you and make sure they will continue to be accessible as you age.  Your retirement will be happier if you can easily get to your preferred religious services, sporting events, entertainment venues, a senior center, exercise facilities and other activities.  You do not want to feel restricted to your home.

Have an Exercise Plan - After you retire, it is far too easy to relax in your favorite chair, put up your feet, turn on the TV and tune out the rest of the world.  You've earned it ... right?  The problem is that relaxing too much can make your more likely to become obese, develop heart disease and possibly become susceptible to other illnesses, as well.  Instead, everyone should aim for at least 30 minutes a day of exercise which is brisk enough to cause your heart rate to increase.  It can be walking, jogging, bicycling or taking an exercise class.  Believe it or not, exercise improves your brain function, reduces stress, helps your overall physical health and can give you a positive mental attitude.  That is a lot of benefit for 30 minutes of your time each day after retirement!

Plan to Eat Right After Retirement - At some point, nearly all seniors will eventually live alone, especially women.  It is very easy to slip into the habit of eating frozen dinners and a bowl of cereal for all your meals.  It can seem like a lot of extra trouble to prepare fresh vegetables and balanced meals.  However, it is important to eat right if you want to have a long and healthy retirement.  If you find you are not fixing healthy meals for yourself, see if your local senior center serves low cost meals during the week.  It is a great opportunity to eat well and socialize with people from your community.  If you reach the point when you cannot get out of your house, you may be eligible to have Meals on Wheels deliver food to you.  Not only will you get a healthy meal delivered to your home, but you will also have someone stop by your house most days of the week for a few minutes.  They will check to make sure you are OK and you can chat with them briefly.  However you arrange to eat healthy meals, make sure you eat right after retirement.

Keep Learning New Things - Another way to enjoy life and slow down your mental decline is to continue to learn new things.  Whether you take classes at a local community college, sign up for music lessons,  or learn a foreign language, it stimulates your brain to learn new things.

Volunteer - There are few better ways to reduce our isolation and raise our self-esteem than volunteering to help other people.  In most cases, you will also be learning new things, which stimulates your mind.  In addition, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping other people.  There are volunteer opportunities all around us.  Check with your local hospital, school, food bank or senior center.  If you still haven't found something which interests you, check, or the Hands On Network for more opportunities in your area.

Get a Part-time Job - You can improve your financial situation, make new friends, and learn new skills simply by finding a part-time job.  Check out your local mall, senior center or for job possibilities for senior citizens.

If you take the actions above, you are much more likely to have an emotionally satisfying retirement.  Isn't that a great goal for the last 30 or so years of your life?

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness, which will be released in 2018 by Griffin Publishing.  It will go into much more detail about this information, as well as other important aspects of retirement preparedness.

If you are interested in more information about how to have a happy retirement, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on where to retire, financial planning, medical issues, and more.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recreation in Retirement Communities

Are you trying to decide whether or not living in an over-55 retirement community would be the right choice for you? One important issue in choosing a home in the right retirement community is deciding what recreational activities are important to you. For example, my husband and I looked at a variety of over-55 communities and, even more important than the housing, we were interested in the recreational opportunities. For example, one of the communities we considered had an indoor track and swimming pool. Another had a golf course, but not much else.

One of the reasons we chose Laguna Woods Village in Orange County, California is because it had such a wide selection of recreational activities, including horseback riding. Above is a photo of me, in a red jacket, on a trail ride with other residents of the community. Every winter, the riders plant wildflower seeds as we ride along the trail. In the spring, we benefit from acres of gorgeous flowers.

In addition to the horseback riding, the over-55 community where we chose to buy a home has two golf courses (one of which is shown in the photo below), five pools, seven clubhouses, two gyms, tennis courts, over 200 clubs, an auditorium for live performances, and another auditorium appropriate for bands and ballroom dancing. In addition, we are only five miles from the charming community of Laguna Beach, which has its own assortment of restaurants, theaters, art festivals and other activities. With such a variety of activities, I didn't think we would ever get bored or run out of things to do.

In fact, one of our biggest challenges is limiting our activities. We are constantly invited to join clubs, go to concerts, or sign up for activities. Fortunately, everything is very inexpensive. My husband pays $8 for 9 holes of golf, and I pay $6 for a trail ride. One of our granddaughters can also take riding lessons there. Group lessons for beginning riders are $11 for grandchildren.

Across the United States, there are hundreds of retirement communities, including some by such well-know developers as Sun City.  Some retirement communities have golf courses; some are located on lakes or near the ocean; others are near colleges.  You have the choice of being in a cold climate with snow skiing or a more tropical climate with year-around mild weather. Retirees need to consider what they would enjoy doing after they retire before they purchase their retirement home.

Whatever retirement community you choose, give a great deal of thought to the recreational opportunities which are available both in your community and in the surrounding community.  Evaluate how much it will cost you to pursue your favorite hobbies before you buy a house. You want to be able to continue to have some fun as you age. My husband plays golf with people in their 80s and 90s. He hopes to be able to keep up his golf the rest of his life, too!

If you are looking for great places to retire or other retirement advice, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of other articles on where to retire, health concerns, financial planning, family relationships and more.

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Photo credit:  Photos taken by author, Deborah-Diane