Talk shows, social media and conversations are always reminding us about the so-called "Good Old Days." Not all of the past was golden, that's for sure. Poverty, wars, racial injustice, epidemics: there are many things that were not better in the past. But the old-time pleasures are still great to look back on and recall. Sharing memories of good times past with others can make new memories and pass along important values.
Yet while remembering things from the past that were beloved and pleasurable, it can be important to look around at the present. Take time to appreciate advances in medicine and convenience, to enjoy technology and advancing ideas, and to value what has been made much better, so that each day can be one of the "Good New Days."
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Have you heard people say that "growing old is no fun?" Who says? Retirement no longer means sitting in a rocking chair just watching other people enjoy life. There are plenty of ways to still have fun as seniors.
1. Take a Chance
Games can be individual activities, like playing Solitaire or working a Sudoku puzzle, or group enterprises, such as the card game Hearts or a trivia game. The brain activity provided by counting, guessing, figuring and laughing is a tremendous advantage to mental health and a scheduled "game night" on the calendar can also provide something to look forward to.
2. Take a Moment
Even if the family is too busy to stop by for long visiting sessions, memories and thoughts can be shared through writing. Many people this their life was routine or ordinary, but everyone has real stories, heartbreaks, obstacles and successes to pass along to others. An older adult can jot down notes about their time in a war or their reactions to a historical event. Maybe share some gardening secrets or memories of a teaching career. The budding writer might have some hilarious tales to tell. If hand-writing is hard, enlist a younger relative to "take dictation" for an hour or so at a time or use a small recording device. The process of writing can actually prevent age-related brain shrinkage.
3. Take a Walk
The simple act of taking a walk is one of the best ways to keep healthy. Even a stroll around the block or up the hallway and back can add to a senior's strength, balance, lung function and eyesight. New vistas and scenery can soothe the mind: a bird's nest, a holiday decoration, a child at play or new models of cars all provide new "brain food."
4. Take the Plunge
Swimming can be a safe and healthy way for seniors to spend time. While being a calm way to lower blood pressure and increase strength, it's easy on the joints and can help fight osteoporosis. Some classes at a local gym or community pool are geared especially to seniors, with helpful instructors and fun music.
5. Take the Stage
"Let's put on a show," was often the delighted cry of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, and it's still a wonderful idea. Many residential or worship centers provide activities for seniors to act, sing, or dance. Cardiovascular health, serotonin levels, balance and memory can all be improved by getting creative in these active ways.