Looking for a brand-new pursuit to pass the time? Try one of these seven energizing, engaging hobbies
Become a Bird Watcher
Want to get some fresh air and instantly lift your spirits? Try bird watching. It’s easy to get started and it can be as active (or as sedentary) as you’d like. Grab a set of binoculars and take a peek from your patio, or grab some friends and embark on an invigorating hike into the woods. Don’t forget your camera so that you can share your findings later.
Launch a Book Club
Everyone loves a well-told story. Whether you’re a die-hard mystery buff or an avid reader of biographies, why not share your love of books with others by creating (or participating in) a book club? By organizing the club yourself, you can set the tone on how formal, or informal, it is, and have a say in which books are selected.
Grow a Green Thumb
It’s never too late to start gardening—even if you live in a small space. Container gardening can be achieved with a little creativity and can bring lots of beautiful flowers to a small area. All you need is a balcony, a windowsill, or a small patio.
If you garden outside, you’ll experience some health benefits: The exposure to the sun provides the vitamin D bones need to increase balance and flexibility, which could reduce the risk of slips and falls.
Cut the Rug
Dancing is not only fun, but it’s a great way to get the blood pumping and socialize. Dancing can also improve balance, gait, and overall functioning, while also helping to reduce the risk of falls. Here’s another benefit: A study from Albert Einstein College of Medicine revealed that ballroom dancing was associated with a lower risk of dementia. The researchers contend that the mental challenge of following complex dance steps and moving in time with the music are responsible. A local dance class is one of the many ways to engage in this activity.
Bonus: Stay connected to a loved one by challenging them to a game from afar. There are many websites with games two or more can play against one another, and most online games are free, including word searches, picture puzzles, and card games.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never considered yourself an artist. Whether you’re sketching stick figures or the next masterpiece, drawing makes people feel more productive and accomplished, which boosts self-esteem and confidence. It can also increase seniors’ hand-eye coordination. Being present in the moment is a good way to enhance mood and increase the odds of living a long and healthy life. You can get started by simply putting pencil to paper. As you expand your skills, consider using crayons, markers, or paint in your works.
Play a Game
Cards and games are an excellent way for older adults to keep their minds sharp. So plan a game night with friends. Research shows that adults who enjoy mentally stimulating games (even sudoku on the computer or crossword puzzles) may have sharper thinking skills than their peers.
Join Other volunteers
Doing volunteer work, whether once a week at the local library, or every day at a children’s center, can enrich your life, while making a drastic difference in the lives of others in your community. Many people say the reason they don’t volunteer is lack of free time, making retirement a great time of life to do volunteer work. Look for opportunities to make a difference at quasi-governmental establishments, as well as schools, veterans associations, and other nonprofit organizations. “Microvolunteering” is a great way to make an impact with small actions that you can do from the comfort of your own home. Visit www.helpfromhome.com for hundreds of bite-size service projects that you can do on your own time with skills you already have.
33 Activities and Counting
On any given day, residents at CareOne at Millbury will be busy with a wide variety of pursuits, ranging from ice cream socials to gardening clubs. “Our residents never get bored,” says Cheryl Perry, director of recreation for the CareOne at Millbury, MA, That’s because her team routinely organizes 33 activities per day across the facility’s three units.
Besides daily activities like art and gardening, residents enjoy themed social events throughout the year. There’s a monthly auction, where residents use Millbury bucks they’ve earned (by participating in various activities) to bid on items like perfume, wallets, fuzzy socks, and holiday décor.
“The auction sometimes gets very heated,” says Perry. Bids went to 75 Millbury bucks for a stuffed Grinch character that sang and danced, “believe it or not,” she says.
Another popular activity is the CareOne culinary club, where residents serve on a rotating committee that picks a special ethnic meal each month to be served in the dining room. Those meals are “a real treat,” says Perry.