We’ve earned wisdom, experience and knowledge with every wrinkle and each gray hair. Why keep those gifts to ourselves? Let’s set an example of the wonderful contributions older adults can make toward the vitality and richness of our communities. This is Older Americans Month. I am inspired by the Administration for Community Living’s 2019 theme – Connect, Create, Contribute – because it closely aligns with the tenets of Vibrante Living’s community lifestyle.
This is how we should be living! Remaining active and connected is directly associated with better health and more happiness. If you’re not already doing so, ease these three aspects into your everyday life. Connect with other like-minded adults, create a life filled with personal enrichment, and contribute to your community by volunteering.
Just say yes to life, and figure it out as you go
In your mind, you probably feel decades younger than your calendar age. Your dreams shouldn’t have expiration dates. You finally have the time! Start using it. Give yourself permission to try something new. As the saying goes, “What if I fall? But oh, my darling, what if you fly?” Be that person who spends their days pursuing fulfillment.
● Connect with others: Try a new restaurant, visit a museum or go bird watching with others. Turn your favorite hobby into a time for social interaction by finding people with your same interest. A senior center is a great place to find a group to play cards with regularly. Grab a friend and take a walk around the lake.
● Create a life filled with enrichment: Take a cooking class or learn to speak a new language. Join – or start – a book or film club. Take yoga or water aerobics at the community center. See if you qualify for the free SilverSneakers fitness program through your Medicare plan.
● Contribute to your community: See if your local food shelf or animal shelter could use a helping hand. Maybe there are skills you used in your professional life that you could volunteer in retirement. Participate in a community garden. Use this AARP search tool to find a service project in your area.
Sometimes we need a little nudge to take on new activities or challenge ourselves. The National Institute on Aging highlights health benefits that may be just the encouragement you need.
Keep your mind and body strong
● Staying involved in activities that bring meaning to your life may lower your risk of developing dementia and other health problems and may increase your lifespan. It may also help prevent feelings of isolation and depression.
● Research is looking into how being involved in the creative arts may help with memory, comprehension and problem solving.
● Physical activity is shown to reduce the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes.
● Stronger muscles mean a reduced risk of falling and a better chance of maintaining your independence.
The benefits of staying active are clear. And the options for being involved are endless. Start small by trying one new activity. You might find yourself energized and ready to take on even more. I’m launching the Vibrante Voyagers Facebook group to help motivate and encourage you. If you are in the Twin Cities, please join us for our first meeting on May 28 at 9 a.m. We will start with a one hour bike ride and then relax over coffee afterward. Details will be on the Voyagers Facebook page.
Even knowing the importance of staying engaged, you might have entered retirement without a plan to make it happen. It’s time to think about where your interests lie and jump right in. If getting involved sounds better with the encouragement of like-minded women, then a shared-living environment such as Vibrante might be right for you. I expect openings in June 2020. Reach out to me and I can help you decide if it would be a good fit!