Post by Heather Smith
You wake up every morning and stumble through your morning routine. Grab for the first cup of coffee of the day, run out the door with your granola bar, and hit the road. Depending on where you live, you then begin to fight your way to work in traffic. You arrive at work exhausted and slip into your daily work schedule. Retirement is just around the corner and you can’t wait. Ah… to not have to go through this every day.
Then when the day finally comes for you to retire it is such a glorious time, for a few weeks, months, or in some cases (like mine) years. After all, there is only so much you can do around the house unless you live on a huge estate with expansive gardens… which I do not. Or some of you may have the traveling bug, roaming the country in your recreational vehicles, seeing the world. But alas, that is not me either. You could also be one of those people who have always been organized and plan every moment of your life, which I am not.
For those of us that do not fall into any of the above categories there may come a point when you begin to look for things to make you feel productive again. Not so structured as work, lots more fun, but productive. I realize that there have to be others like me out there. I have been doing a little research myself on this very subject so I thought I would share what I have found so far.
One of the neatest things I have come across is at my local community college. They have many great options for those fifty and over. One program they have is called The Academy for Lifelong Learning. They offer free and low-cost classes, events, and activities for adults. There are so many areas to choose from no matter what kind of individual you are. There is technology, health and wellness, financial planning, community service projects, literary discussion groups, genealogy, arts and crafts, history, and much more. I will give you some examples of classes I spotted while on their site.
- Senior Acting
- Indian Cooking
- Geocaching (which I did not even know existed, had to look it up!)
- Writing a Novel
- Computer Classes
- Foreign Languages
- Jewelry Beading
- Tai Chi
- Beginning Bird Watching
- Basket Weaving
- Paper Quilling (Another one I had to look up!)
There are other opportunities that donot require taking a class as well, such as:
- Musical Concerts
- Financial Seminars
- Psychology Lectures
- State History Lectures
- Day Trips
They also have a Leisure Learning branch of the school that offers non-credit enrichment courses for adults. Some of these classes are for the more adventurous retiree.
- Motorcycle Classes. For beginners on up to those that want to sharpen their existing skills or learn new ones.
- Dog obedience training. They advertise the class as teaching the dog owner to view the world the way a dog sees it, hmmm, interesting thought.
- Digital Photography. A hands-on class for beginners – includes camera controls, sharpness, exposure, light and color, flash, resolution, and composition.
- Bowling. Covering skills, safety, scorekeeping, rules, and strategies.
- Scuba Diving. Basic techniques, equipment and water safety.
They say they offer courses from Accounting to Zumba and everything in between.You could spend all day every day and not run out of options. If you have a sought after skill set you could even apply to teach some of these classes!
I have also been looking into volunteer opportunities. There are so many non-profit organizations that need volunteers. Give the United Way a call or look it up online to find multiple ways to volunteer. You can also go to a nearby nursing home and talk to their activities coordinator to find ways to volunteer. They always need help, whether reading to someone, helping at dinner time, taking someone for a stroll, or just hanging out with someone who does not often have company. There are church run ministries if you belong to a local church that you can become involved in. Hospitals are always looking for volunteers. I know not everyone is suited to work with the sick or elderly but I know from my years of employment and working with the United Way that they have other needs. They need people to repair or paint houses, tend gardens, or sort clothing and food. There are so many ways to help and have fun doing it; another benefit of volunteering is meeting new people.
I ran across several sites online that talked about volunteering as you travel. Traveling to parts of the world that need help with endangered species, conservation volunteers, or teaching English in impoverished countries. You can work on farms, build houses, or work with local schools. Some of the volunteer opportunities require you to pay small fees but they provide meals and lodging. There are many that require little to nothing and offer a wealth of personal satisfaction that comes with serving others. This isnot for everyone but for some this would be the adventure of a lifetime. Here is a website I ran across with some of these opportunities http://matadornetwork.com/change/10-volunteer-opportunities-for-free-travel/.
There are also travel groups just for seniors out there. One called Road Scholar that connects seniors (or as they put it, mature adults) with “learning adventures.” It’s for people over fiftythat want a little adventure in their lives. If you are seeking a new hobby, exploring national parks, or volunteering they can set you up. There are applications for scholarships to offset some or all of your trip costs.
Another group that does this is called Elder Treks. These are high adventure trips and with some ending in exotic destinations. They focus on small groups and allow you to bring a younger companion but no children are permitted.
For those of us who have grandchildren or may even still have younger children living with us there’s a group called Rascals in Paradise that sounds intriguing. They customize trips for parents or grandparents who want to travel with children. The article which I read says they specialize in snorkeling and diving trips. They offer excursions to every continent but Antarctica. They offer to work closely with you to create a travel adventure that is age-appropriate and memorable.
While doing this research I also ran across an article that gave reasons why seniors should take dance lessons. To learn to dance came to mind…. But their list consisted of bringing back the romance in your relationship, putting the spring back in your step, and getting into shape. Another attribute mentioned was your mental health. Keeping active is a deterrent to Alzheimer’s disease they said; an active mind is a healthy mind according to the article. They claim dancing lessons require that you use the analytic portion of your mind to learn and memorize the dance steps. It sounded like a good idea to me. It also sounds like a fun way to keep on your toes!
I know that many of us have extended family and tons of loving grandkids that keep us busy on a regular basis. There are others of you who have church and community involvement to keep you active. But for those of us who do not have things going on in those areas there are some pretty good ideas out there to help keep us busy. And don’t forget about golf, tennis, fishing, and boating! Just get out and have some fun doing something active, creative, or mentally stimulating. It can lift your spirits and help you feel productive again.
Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to http://www.nanny.net/ service by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.firstname.lastname@example.org.