Aging and all that comes along with it, difficulty driving, health concerns, hearing loss and sometimes loneliness can be a lot to overcome. It is more important than ever in our senior years that we stay connected. Cognitive decline has been linked to a lack of socialization, which happens many times when seniors are far from relatives, especially when one or both have health issues or when on one’s own. With this in mind, we’ve come up with five ways to help seniors stay engaged and enjoying life!
1. Join a Senior Center or Community Center. Many times when we say ‘Senior Center’ people automatically assume we are talking about an independent or assisted living facility or nursing home. Senior centers are altogether different. In fact, many who live in independent senior living take part in senior center activities. A senior center is a place to be social with others in the senior age group. There are all kinds of activities available depending on the resources available in the community. They range from bingo to yoga. Some even serve lunch so seniors don’t find themselves eating alone every day or not eating at all at home. Look for community center classes like cooking, photography or water aerobics to find a new way to be social and find others with similar interests.
2. Take an Internet Class or Ask Someone to Help Teach the Basics. This is a great option for seniors who want to learn how to connect to family and friends online. So much of the younger generation’s time is spent on phones, email and the like that it can sometimes seem the only way to get their attention. The younger the person, the more this is true. A wonderful benefit of technology is the ability to Skype or FaceTime with family far away as shown in the documentary Cyber-Seniors. This is especially helpful if hearing loss is a factor and phone conversations are difficult. Visual cues make all the difference. Social media, like Facebook is an excellent way to connect and catch up with old or long lost friends as well.
3. Take College Courses. Don’t stop at Computer Classes, you can take classes for anything and seniors find themselves eligible for many different options like free or discounted tuition. In Texas, The College for All Texans plan allows for 6 free credit hours to senior citizens. There are many stories, like the 84-year-old in Boca Raton who is pursuing his B.A. in psychology and isn’t stopping there, with his sights set on a Masters. Or this 70 year old who joined a fraternity and went to school as an undergrad.
4. Teach! We’re certain you have knowledge to impart to the younger generations. You can teach at a community center or create an online or MeetUp group to teach others skills that you have picked up along the way. Those computer/internet classes will definitely come in handy for this. If you never felt that you mastered a particular skill, but have a story to tell, there is always someone to listen that can learn from your experiences. You don’t need a classroom to be a teacher.
5. Host a Game Night or Book Club through Church or Your Senior Center. There are many other seniors who want to get out and spend time with others, but don’t know where to start. A book club or game night is a great way to create a community. Game night has taken on a whole new meaning in our technological times as well, Wii or Xbox for indoor bowling or golf can bring new excitement to the get-togethers. Even so, tried and true staples like bridge are still great options and are more conducive to conversation.
Hopefully these options have given you some ideas and maybe some motivation to get social. If even one of these sounds appealing, go for it! It takes a village, not only to raise a child, but to ensure no one is lost, no matter what their age. If we can help you find resources for yourself or a loved one in Central or South Texas, please contact us today.