Those nearing retirement or superannuation, look forward to a relaxing life with no work, responsibilities and commitments. But after a few days of having retired, the excitement of not having to go to work or follow a particular routine wears out. The post retirement plans of travelling around the world may not work out because of health or economic limitations. Elders often find that they have too much time in hand with nothing to do. Gradually, loneliness sinks in bringing with it a number of physical and mental health issues.
So what do you do then? The best answer to this question would be to find a new hobby. “I am very passionate about crocheting. Earlier, I did not have time for it as I was busy with my job and with looking after my children and parents. After I retired, I did not know what to do with myself. It was when I went to an exhibition that I saw some lovely crocheted articles and remembered my own passion. Every morning since that day, I look forward to my time with my needle and yarn” says Mrs. Jayanti* when asked about her hobby. Mr. and Mrs. Nair* had a similar story to tell “All our lives, we never bothered about exercising. But after the sudden loss of a very close family member, we decided to join a yoga center. Only then we realized that yoga can actually soothe the mind and soul. It helped us in diverting our minds from our worries and has given us a new meaning to our lives.”
Studies have proved that mental and social activity is just as important as physical activity when it comes to healthy and graceful ageing. Hobbies and leisure activities are factors that are linked with living longer and avoiding monotony.
IndiaElderConnect has put together some of the hobbies that we think elders can peruse:
- Arts and Crafts: Arts and crafts are not just fun to do, but they are also therapeutic and satisfying. When you create something beautiful, you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. It stirs memories and stimulates your brain to think differently.
- Learning a new language: It is never too late to learn. Learning a new language can help you ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s. It also builds your confidence in your ability to learn and is very useful when you travel to a new place.
- Learning to use a new gadget: Why let go off of technology and not benefit from it like the younger ones do? Try your hand at learning a new gadget – a smart phone, computer/ laptop or an iPad. You will be amazed by the wonders of the virtual world.
- Yoga: Yoga is a great hobby for senior citizens. The benefits of yoga are many; to name a few: it improves sleep quality, reduces stress, enhances respiratory function, increases bone density and prevents osteoporosis, improves balance and moderates chronic pain.
- Walking: This is an excellent activity for senior citizens. Walking benefits not just the physical body, but also the mind. When you walk alone, you get connected with nature and yourself. Walking with loved ones and friends is also an interesting and healthy option to increase your socialization.
- Reading and writing: For literature lovers, this is probably the best hobby. Reading books is a great way of igniting your imagination. If you’ve always been reading books, try reading a book of a new genre. Writing short stories based on your experiences and memories helps you to stimulate your brain into thinking. As you write, you also learn new words and phrases which can be added to your piece.
- Cooking: Cooking and baking can be very rewarding when you take the time to enjoy it. Read cooking books or magazines or watch cooking shows and try out the recipes that you like. This activity serves as an exercise, a stimulator and is a exciting way of finishing your chore of making a meal.
- Gardening: Gardening has health and therapeutic benefits. It is an enjoyable exercise and increases physical activity. While it involves using motor skills, it also reduces stress levels and lets you relax. Moreover, there’s something about nurturing a garden and watching your handiwork come to life in the form of beautiful flowers or delicious vegetables.
- Volunteering: Many senior citizens get involved in volunteering after they retire. Bringing a smile on the faces of the less fortunate is the best way of giving back to your community. There are many fields for volunteering, be it in religious places, residential or day care centres/homes, animal shelters and in forums or associations.
There are several different hobbies that senior citizens can pursue. However, like Dr Denise Park, of Texas University in Dallas, said: “It’s not enough just to get out and do something – it’s important to get out and do something unfamiliar and mentally challenging that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially.” So engage yourself in something new, something that you can feel passionately about and explore a new world.
If you think we have missed out on something, do write to us in the comments section. We would love to hear from you about the hobbies you engage yourself in. And for those of you who haven’t found a hobby yet, do check the Locate Services (http://indiaelderconnect.com/finding-services/) tab to find an activity centre in your city/locality.
So find yourself a hobby now!!