As you age, it’s common to drop hobbies you used to love when you were younger. However, it’s essential for seniors to have hobbies. Engaging in hobbies reduces chances of developing dementia, keeps you physically healthy, improves thinking skills, decreases depression, and gives you a sense of purpose. With a few adjustments, it’s possible to continue participating in your favorite activities far into old age. For most problems, there are solutions to help make activities easier for seniors.
Problem: You have physical challenges, such as joint pain.
Solution: Try water aerobics, walking, or workouts specifically designed for seniors.
No matter what age you are, it’s crucial to get enough exercise. When you were younger, you may have exercised by dancing, taking aerobic classes, or running. Now these activities are more challenging and might even feel dangerous. Luckily, water aerobics and swimming are great ways to stay fit without hurting your joints. Swimming improves cardiovascular health, flexibility, and muscle tone. If you like dancing, try Aqua Zumba.
Walking is still a useful workout as well. Trade out the runs for long walks and get the added benefit of seeing nature. Gyms also sometimes have workout programs specifically designed for older adults. Participating in one of these programs can keep you fit as well as make you feel more social.
Problem: You don’t have many close friends nearby.
Solution: Join clubs, visit senior centers, and volunteer.
As you grow older, you may find you don’t have many close friends to socialize with. This is an issue as seniors who report feeling lonely have a higher mortality risk as well as a greater risk of mental and physical decline compared to more social peers. Spending adequate time with peers reduces stress and stimulates your brain. You should see family and friends as much as possible, but even if you don’t know many people in your area, there are plenty of ways to be social.
Senior centers and libraries are filled with clubs to join and activities to attend. You can also take a class or, for less pressure, audit one. Volunteering is an amazing way to socialize while at the same time giving back to your community. Most areas have a variety of volunteer opportunities available and, even if they don’t advertise it, would love the help of a volunteer. You can have children practice reading to you at schools, help at a local food pantry, or get involved with a church in your area.
Problem: You have incontinence and worry about leaks.
Solution: Do pelvic floor exercises and wear incontinence products.
For many seniors, the problem isn’t figuring out what activities they would enjoy participating in, but a fear they might have embarrassing bladder leakage during these activities. Having incontinence often prevents people from continuing their favorite hobbies. It’s possible to reduce your incontinence by doing pelvic floor exercises. These exercises are often referred to as Kegels. Having more control over these muscles makes it easier to ensure you make it to a bathroom in time.
However, these exercises don’t guarantee you’ll never have a leak. You may not be able to stop leaks, but you can make sure nobody notices them by wearing adult pads or diapers. While some people worry others will be able to tell they are wearing incontinence products, this simply isn’t true. Most incontinence products are easily hidden under clothing. People are unlikely to notice you’re wearing adult pads or diapers, but if you don’t wear them, they might see leaks through your clothing.
Problem: You’re nervous about caring for something living.
Solution: Adopt an older pet or adjust your gardening.
It’s natural to want to nurture something, but about your ability to do so. While it may not necessarily be the best idea to start raising an untrained puppy, it’s a great idea to raise an older pet as a senior. Many shelters have older dogs needing a home who don’t have the overwhelming energy of puppies. Having a pet can reduce your stress, lower your blood pressure, and help fight depression.
If you’re not drawn to pets, gardening is another great hobby where you get to nurture something living. Many older adults enjoy gardening because it gets you in nature, involves some physical activity, and is relaxing. Unfortunately, this hobby is sometimes dropped when movement becomes more limited.
If you want to continue gardening, but find it’s tricky with arthritis, or you have trouble bending down often, there are ways to fix those problems. Garden beds can be raised and you can sit on a small stool so you don’t have to continuously bend over. New tools now exist that are easier to use with arthritis. You can also hire someone to take care of the more laborious parts of gardening and only do the parts you enjoy most.
Problem: You don’t have the budget for hobbies.
Solution: Ask for discounts, take advantage of libraries, and try games.
Some hobbies can be expensive and difficult to afford while retired. Never be afraid to ask if a senior discount is available. You might be surprised by how many gyms and other facilities have reduced prices for seniors. If you have a flexible schedule, take advantage of cheaper deals on weekdays.
Libraries hold way more than books these days. If your eyesight struggles to read small text, consider trying audiobooks. Many libraries also have games now. Studies are showing that video games can help the neuroplasticity of your brain. Next time you go to the library, ask about upcoming events and take home some movies and video games in addition to your books.
As a senior, it’s essential to maintain your hobbies or try new ones. Don’t let a change of health or lower budget stop you from participating in activities you love. The more physically and socially active people are, the happier they tend to be. You may find you enjoy these new or adjusted activities much more than you ever expected.