Research shows that social inclusion remains an integral element of our senior years providing both mental, emotional and physical benefits. So, whilst many aspects of our life can change as we age, we need to continue the act of fostering and maintaining healthy relationships with like-minded individuals.
Exploring new activities and friendships can be daunting. Similarly, changing our old routines and habits and forming new ones is something most of us aren’t naturally good at. To help you take the plunge, we have created a list of suitable activities geared towards seniors. Hopefully, some of these options will tickle your fancy and get you on the right track to living a full and active life in your senior years.
1. Walking groups
Walking groups are a popular choice for seniors as there's little equipment involved other than a pair of walking shoes. Walking with friends, both old and new, is a great way to combine fitness and socialising. Local walking groups are commonly held in the great outdoors as well as inside shopping malls. Apart from enjoying the window shopping, walking around air-conditioned shopping centres is a handy option as it isn‘t weather dependent and the terrain is generally smooth and safe. You could join a local group or create your own.
2. Community games
Do you have a competitive side? Community groups all over Australia regularly run game nights specifically tailored for seniors. Whether it’s bingo, bridge or trivial pursuit, game nights provide an excellent opportunity to get out and about and stay connected to the local community.
Ever considered volunteering? Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to your community whilst also making new friends. Many organisations welcome volunteers including schools, museums, galleries and hospitals. You might choose to volunteer skills earned during your career or you might prefer to try your hand at something new. Either way, volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and pride as well as offering opportunities for staying fit and healthy.
You may be pleasantly surprised to read that most styles of dancing do not require a partner. So, if you’ve ever fancied learning to dance or building on your skills from years ago, now is the perfect time. In addition to offering an excellent physical and mental workout, dancing provides many opportunities for a giggle and a chat. As with any new physical activity, it’s important you get the all-clear from your doctor prior to commencing.
5. Sports clubs
If you find that you’ve lost your sense of community or camaraderie then joining a sports club might be you. Sports clubs attract like minded people who enjoy having the routine of meeting to play or even watch sport on a regular basis. It offers an excellent opportunity to form new friendships based on a shared interest and maintain or improve fitness too. Remember to get the all-clear from your doctor prior to starting any new physical activity.
6. Community excursions
Community excursions are an excellent option for seniors who don’t drive or lack the confidence to get out in the community. Generally run by local councils and community organisations, community excursions provide an opportunity for seniors to enjoy a range of activities including visiting the local shops, gardens, museums, theatrical productions as well as attending special events.
Gardening is another popular choice for seniors and has even been shown to reduce levels of stress and anxiety. Getting outside and gardening with like minded people is an excellent way to socialise, get active and even make your surroundings that little bit lovelier. Many communities now have what are known as “community gardens”, all you need to join is a set of gardening tools and a green thumb!
8. Join a choir
If you enjoy singing and the friendship and sense of community that goes along with joining a group, then a choir may be just the ticket for you. Community choirs often have a broad repertoire, singing songs from a range of genres. They can also accommodate a range of singing abilities, so there is no need to shy away if your singing skills aren’t yet up to scratch.
9. Arts and crafts
Joining an arts and crafts group offers the opportunity to explore your creative passions and socialise with other arts and crafts lovers. Groups like this are also mentally stimulating. The added bonus of joining a group is that the facilitator can provide assistance should you need it. Popular arts and craft activities include painting, sewing, printing, knitting, drawing, crocheting and woodworking. Some arts and crafts groups donate their creations to worthy causes, adding a bonus feel-good factor for participants.
10. Cooking classes
Do you love cooking, learning new skills and enjoy the company of others? Then look no further than your local cooking class. Cooking classes are a great way to get out with like minded people and learn new skills that can help you every day. A wide range of cooking classes are conducted all over Australia, including some specifically tailored to seniors. Plus, if you prefer cooking in the comfort of your own home, these days a number of online classes are available too.
If you enjoy cooking, but also want to give back to your community you might consider volunteering at your local soup kitchen. Not only will you be providing a nutritious meal for those who might otherwise go hungry, but you might also meet lots of interesting people along the way.
11. Book clubs
Book clubs are another great way to connect with likeminded people. Book clubs can be in person or online. They operate by selecting a book for all members to read and then discuss at a later date. Meetings commonly occur either at a library, cafe, park or in members’ own homes. You can create your own book club or join an established club through your local library or community centre.
12. Further education
Lastly, further education is yet another wonderful way to combine personal interests with new hobbies and the opportunity for social interaction. A wide variety of classes exist for seniors and include everything from learning a new sport, craft or even a new language. You might like to take on the challenge of a formal qualification or you could choose to enrol in a collaborative learning environment like The University of the Third Age which is staffed and taught entirely by retirees.
Staying socially active later in life has been shown to offer so many benefits including mental, emotional and physical. With so many options available there is bound to be an activity or group that is perfect for you.