They may not be yelling from an open window, but many older Americans might as well be standing up and shouting, “No more shame about aging. No more hiding my age. I’m going to celebrate!”
During Older Americans Month, we get to look at a new trend: Aging Out Loud. Older Americans are doing things to get out, earn money, and improve lives.
So they’ll have better health options, longer life, and more independence.
How Seniors are Living More Vibrant Lives
Working in Retirement
In June 2016, Pew Research found that nearly 19 percent of people 65 and over were working full time or part time. That’s nine million people. Compare that to the figures from 16 years ago when only four million older adults — or nearly 13 percent — worked.
But older adults have found that work does a lot more than bring in extra money. It may also decrease isolation and depression. Many people have found that it also increases their coping skills and resources as they manage the personal losses and health issues associated with aging. Working can be a wonderful distraction from pain and worries.
The social aspect of work can bring new friends into one’s life when others have moved away. To help people determine the next right step in the direction of work, AARP has a great online program you can explore called Life Reimagined.
Tackle New Activities
For some aging adults, learning new activities may mean going for the gold: coloring with the grandkids or taking them out on a local adventure. But other adults may get a thrill from taking advantage of classes for academics, arts and entertainment, exercise, or self-improvement.
Research is showing that learning new things can improve memory, comprehension, creativity, and problem-solving.
You need not run up a big bill with classes or gym memberships. Simply taking walks around town or traveling to the state next door can provide a sense of novelty. And that’s one thing that the brain thrives on. Novelty, or enrichment, is essential for the growth of brain cells.
Taking even little walks can bring big surprises. When an older newcomer to the neighbor broke her leg and couldn’t drive, she spied a church within hobbling distance. Once there, she learned that it had a multi-racial gospel choir, and suddenly she had a whole group of friendly folks who welcomed her—crutches, bad voice, and all. It’s proof that there are surprises of all sizes right in your own backyard.
Many older people derive meaning from life by engaging in the community. And research backs up those feelings. We now know staying actively engaged with life helps promote healthy aging.
And there’s a lot to choose from. Think: people, places, and things. With a bit of looking or talking, it’s pretty easy to find people who could use a helping hand. Kids need readers. Disabled people need errands done. Veterans need a listening ear. Our oldest adults may need a hot meal. Gardens need tending. Homes need de-cluttering. Dogs need walking. You get the point. Opportunities for getting involved abound.
Those older Americans who are changing how we look at aging may know something other people don’t know. That is how the need to affect change can lead to activism and engagement. Both can reduce depression and motivate people to make important changes or to celebrate the life they have.
For more ideas about aging out loud, we encourage you to Subscribe to our Five Star Senior Living Blog. Several times each week we share the latest news and research impacting older adults and family caregivers.