HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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family member groups at Hospice. This is something different, she explains, than what she did before (she is a spiritual counselor), but it is a new way to use her gifts. And she is still searching for new paths to wisdom.


Lee Ann offers her own mother as an example of someone who used her gifts in her later years. “When my dad died, I asked my mom what she would like to do now that she hadn’t been able to do when Dad was alive,” Lee Ann said. “She said she wanted to square dance. It was at a square dance that she met her second husband. After that, she changed dramatically. She became very happy and found ways to use talents she didn’t know she had. She did a complete transformation. It was amazing.”


One senior stressed this was a time to focus on the spiritual. And several mentioned relationships as being of vital importance. Another said she found she did not always have to be correct, in fashion, appearance and many other aspects of life in her senior years. “Good enough is now good for me,” she said.

Are you a senior planning your goals for your later years? A survey was recently conducted in which the following questions were asked of seniors ages 64 to 94 years:



Answers to these questions varied according to how far along on the senior spectrum the individual was, what his or her limitations are and how his or her health is affected by advancing age.


“For me,” said Nancy, “my senior years are a time to begin a new avocation or mini-career. I have explored a new interest in depth and have challenged myself to compete with the younger crowd. As a result, I remain alert, more positive and knowledgeable.”


Harry spoke right up when asked if his senior years are an opportunity to “get it right.” “In my senior years, I am much more aware of my finality and see this time as valuable,” he said. “I want to do all I can to live fully, make a difference and enjoy the little things. These are  

SENIORS TAKE A SURVEY: THIS IS THE TIME TO ‘GET IT RIGHT’

definitely my golden years.” Indeed, Harry is 94 years old but looks and acts like a man in his 70s. He has a contagious laugh and uses it often. He and his wife host a prayer breakfast most Saturday mornings, and he goes to daily Mass.


Mary Faye, an 80ish woman who lives alone, said, “Life is more difficult and different now. I am making do with what I have now, only to find in doing so, second best is best for me.” She has advice for seniors and younger people as well: “Always say ‘yes’ to things that are a little stretch.” She adds, “Most importantly, do not talk about your aches and pains. Nobody wants to hear that. Keep your mind off your body.”


Mary Faye wants to see her grandchildren grow up. She looks forward to events such as a wedding in the family, someone getting a new job so she can celebrate with them or watching the antics of her young relatives.


One 60ish woman, Lee Ann, says she believes all those going into their 60s should reflect on how to use these years as an opportunity to gain and use wisdom. Her own personal experience bears this out: She is volunteering to lead

JEAN JEFFERS

Jean is an RN and a freelance writer. She is a staff writer for Living Well 60 Plus and Health & Wellness magazines. Her Web site is at

www.normajean.naiwe.com

more articles by jean jeffers