I’d like to share a secret. Staying active after retirement is the secret to happiness! Really. It’s true. Having a reason to get up every day, having a purpose and a plan for the day, doing something that matters? It’s essential to living our best life.
Did you know that a 2017 poll by the Nationwide Retirement Institute found roughly 28% of recent retirees reported life after retirement was worse than expected? That flies in the face of all those ads showing happy seniors enjoying their golden years. But like most modern life tropes, retirement is more complicated and nuanced than what we see in ads. There’s good news about how those who’ve been retired for a decade see their lives: they love it. Why? Because unless their health or finances are a major concern, they’ve learned how to live their best life. They’ve discovered staying active makes them happy.
The independent living residents of Fellowship Village know this secret too! Staying active as we age offers 7 major benefits:
- Expands our circle of friends
- Gives purpose and meaning to our life
- Helps us maintain a healthy emotional state
- Helps to delay the onset of dementia
- Improves our quality of life
- Provides opportunities to try new things
- Share our wisdom, experience and talent
Stay Active with a New Career
Would you be surprised to learn more new businesses are started by Baby Boomers than their younger counterparts? The gig economy and easy access to online platforms makes it easier than ever for seniors to reinvent themselves as entrepreneurs. They bring decades of experience in managing staff, workloads, and a career to their retirement startup. For most, it’s not about financial independence (although that can be a nice perk) but having something to keep their mind engaged.
One of the advantages of working is interacting with colleagues, clients, and others. Those social interactions are integral to our social well-being. Did you know that social interaction is also vital for our physical health? According to studies published by the National Institute of Aging, isolation and loneliness increases our risk of high blood pressure, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. Scientists are studying how isolation and loneliness are linked to higher levels of interleukin-6, an inflammatory response molecule. So opportunities to expand your social network either through social activities or side jobs or even building a new business can offer real health benefits.
Stay Active with a Hobby
Staying active as a senior doesn’t require a significant investment in time or resources. But the benefits of social or cultural activities pay big dividends. Whether you pursue a new hobby or devote time to something you’ve enjoyed for decades, your brain will thank you. You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but being older isn’t a barrier when it comes to improving our brain and health.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the Emmy®-award winning chief medical correspondent for CNN and a practicing neurosurgeon, encourages people to make healthy lifestyle choices. In his book about building a better brain, Gupta advocates for aerobic exercise, good sleep hygiene, and building cognitive reserve by continually challenging ourselves and our brain.
You might have heard that working crossword puzzles is good for your brain, but while it might help your memory, it doesn’t really improve your reasoning or problem solving skills. Learning a new language or chess, for example, are more complex challenges that help you build cognitive reserve. And that can help reduce your risk of dementia and other health issues. Not interested in a second language? The key here is not about the difficulty level but the inherent challenge. You could challenge yourself to lower your golf handicap. The key is devoting specific time to an activity that requires problem solving and creative thinking. Consistent practice is the goal, so it needs to be something you really enjoy. Dr. John Morris, director of social and health policy research at the Institute for Aging Research explains that it’s the repetition factor that has the greatest impact on our brain and not focusing on a goal of mastering a specific task.
No matter what activity you choose to stay socially active, you’ll be reaping health, social, and personal benefits. Need a place to start? Check out the amazing array of activities enjoyed by our independent living residents at Fellowship Village on June 1, 2022 at our Cultural Arts Center. Call us at 908.580.3258 to reserve your place or for more information. We’d love to share all that our community has to offer you.