Activities for seniors to get out and about

11th Jun 2018 | LIFESTYLE | ENRICH LIVING

Activities for seniors include some of the most varied and fulfilling activities of any other age group. From dancing and calligraphy, to exhibiting art and completing PhDs, for older Australians the world is very much their oyster.

According to wellness and activity specialist Jan Stuelcken, grabbing life with both hands by staying active can make your life much more rewarding, and can even have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being too.

But older age can also be the most difficult time to start new activities. Where do you start, when your social circle is smaller than it used to be? And have you really got it in you to master new skills like social media?

Here’s five ways to help you get active and live the life you want

Get social

Socialising is associated with all sorts of mental and emotional benefits, including alleviating depression, boosting memory, and reducing stress. The best bit is that social people tend to be happier, and happier people generally enjoy longer lives with better physical health – so getting social really is a win-win. But when you’re living alone, or you don’t have the same energy you used to, getting out and meeting people can be easier said than done. And the less you socialise, the scarier it seems.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s in the same boat. Feelings of isolation are highest among older people because our social circles tend to get smaller as we age. So if you’re looking for a new group of friends but don’t know where to start, don’t worry you’re not alone. There’s a huge number of social groups for older Australians, and everyone who’s involved was new and a little bit shy to begin with. They know how you’re feeling, and will welcome you with open arms.

Senior Centres provide a perfect starting point for people looking to get more social. These have centre-based activities, outings, and meals, as well as special seasonal events such as sundowners. They’ll also be able to give you the details of other groups that fit with your interests, whether that’s doing some group knitting for charity, or getting involved with your local Men’s Shed. Talking to your local council is also a great idea, as they can tell you what programs are available near where you live.

If you prefer something more organised and tailored for your specific needs, how about taking a look at an initiative like the Enrich Living Community Connections program. This a fun-packed fortnightly calendar of activities and outings designed to help keep older Australians connected to their local community. You can access it through a home care package or through private services; give your local office a call to find out more.

Get physical

Maintaining a physically active lifestyle is one of the best ways to ensure you can keep your independence as you age. Doing so can keep you fit, improve your health and overall quality of life, and help reduce age-related accidents such as falls.

The great news is that there are a huge number of fitness-related groups and classes for older Australians. These usually involve low impact exercises that focus on the specific needs of older people, such as building core strength, increasingly flexibility, and boosting general fitness. From walking groups and dances, to yoga, aqua aerobics and badminton, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something you enjoy, whatever your level or abilities.

Again, giving your local council a call is a great start. Most council sports centres run a range of specialist classes for seniors, and they’ll be able to put you in touch with other senior fitness groups in your area. Or if you enjoy using the internet, a quick search on your favourite search engine for the activity you’re interested in plus the words ‘near me’ will bring up plenty of information on physical activities in your local area.

Get creative

One of the best things about retirement is it gives you the time and space for things you’ve always wanted to do. From playing the piano to dusting off your old sketchbooks, older age is the perfect time to do things for no other reason than for the sheer enjoyment of doing them.

As well as bringing you personal joy, creativity can be a wonderful way to meet new people, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. The ladies at one of our Perth day centres recently created some beautiful seasonal boxes together, filling them with goodies for children in need while enjoying a good chin wag and a catch-up. For those of us with a musical ear, groups like amateur choirs, ensembles, and orchestras provide a new social circle and the thrill of performing every now and then.

There’s some great opportunities for artists too. One Enrich client had been a keen painter in her youth, but had since lost the dexterity in her hands. Her case manager arranged for her to take part in an allied health program, which helped restore the movement in her fingers. With the world of painting reopened to her, she created enough canvases to host an exhibition, and even sold some of her work. Or what about some creative writing? Older people have a whole lifetime of stories to tell, and there are writing groups right across Australia where you can share your work and meet new people of all ages.

Grey haired lady wearing pink cardigan at art class

Get volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to get involved with the community, and it can give you the same structure, variety, and feelings of responsibility that you had when you were working. Plus, there’s nothing as lovely as the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you do something to give back. Unlike a job, volunteering doesn’t have to exhaustive or a big commitment. Most organisations that rely on volunteers are grateful for whatever you can offer, so a couple of hours a week – or even a couple of hours a month will be plenty.

There’s a huge variety of volunteering opportunities, from animal welfare to mentoring and advocacy, so you can pick something that you love. If you’re a bit of a history buff, what about sharing your knowledge at a museum? And if you’ve got a dog, did you know that you can take it round primary schools and sit with children while they read to you and your furry friend? Or how about doing an hour here and there at your local op shop, where you’ll meet new customers every day and will be the first to see all the latest bargains? You can even volunteer to help other seniors learn a new skill.

If you’d like to explore volunteering opportunities in your local area, volunteer.com.au is well worth a look. They have more than 12,000 positions right across Australia, and can put you in touch directly with the organisers.

Get learning

The oldest Australian PhD graduate is an impressive 93 years old, proving you’re never too old to learn something new. Although universities welcome students of any age, learning doesn’t have to be anything official or intense to be worthwhile. The U3A (the University of the Third Age) is a great example of high quality education in a low pressure environment, with no entry pre-requisites, no homework, and no exams. It’s low cost too, with most courses delivered by volunteers, and they even provide other learning-related social activities like discussion groups and get-togethers for shared hobbies.

But you don’t have to be part of a group to learn something new. Enrich client Julie Soulis taught herself social media and how to use the internet. Although getting her head around this new technology was challenging at first, Julie now enjoys researching different things online and keeps in touch with her grandkids via Facebook.

You can also find an enormous library of educational videos on YouTube. Want to learn how to arrange flowers? Fancy becoming a chess champion? Or how about finally conquering life’s biggest conundrum: how to fold a fitted sheet?

You really can learn anything on YouTube. Just go to youtube.com and type ‘how to’ plus your topic of interest in the search box.

Talk to your case manager

If you’re receiving home care services, your case manager can help you get set up with all of these activities. They may even know about groups or events that you haven’t heard of, and can arrange for someone to go with you for moral or physical support.

You may even be able to cover any costs involved with these activities using your home care package budget. One client recently used his budget to buy an iPad, and his case manager then arranged lessons for him to learn how to use it. Whatever your interests, we can help, so get in touch and let’s see what’s possible.

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