What gives you joy and satisfaction
Low-energy activities with others
Education and social entertainment
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Avocations you pursue that are relatively low-energy (as opposed to competitive sports, for example) and that you pursue with others generally fall into three categories: volunteering, education, and social entertainment. Volunteering is covered elsewhere in detail, so this page focuses on educational options for those of us in the second half of life, and social entertainment, whether you do this at home (online, or with visitors), in someone else’s home, or out someplace else.
Most of us can maintain these activities at a significant level even when we become quite elderly, provided we continue to reach out to other people - both to make new friends and to keep the ones we already have.
Low-Energy Activities with Others relate to other areas of Avocation:
- High-energy activities with others, because active things you do with others often lead to related less active pastimes (like the post-game dinner, or the theatrical after-party). And because the friendships you establish or strengthen while pursuing less strenuous activities can also lead to opportunities for more vigorous shared activities, assuming you are still physically able to do them.
- High-energy activities by yourself, because these two categories, though opposite, complement each other and also can overlap in a variety of ways.
- Low-energy activities by yourself, because education and entertainment can be pursued alone, as well as with other people. And because most activities you can do alone, you can also do with others, if you prefer.
Low-Energy Activities with Others relate to other areas besides Avocation:
- Spirit, because activities with others provide opportunities to practice patience, kindness, compassion, and other virtues.
- Purpose, because volunteering (detailed under Purpose) is one of the primary forms of avocation that is pursued with other people.
- Love, because our activities with others both require and reinforce good relationships with other people.
- Security, because many of these activities require significant expenditures (or at least they can if we are not careful about it). And because where we live largely determines what educational and entertainment options are available to us.
- Health, because some level of physical and mental health is needed to undertake even most low-energy activities with others. And because getting out and educating and entertaining ourselves can be good for our bodies as well as for our mental health and attitude.
Low-Energy Activities with Others Sub-Topics and Resources
- Get educated: Or educate others. Attend classes or workshops. Learn a new skill. Teach others something you are good at.
“Lifelong learning” is the current catchphrase for a goal that suits many people in the second half of their lives. We seek learning, at times, for specific purposes, and at other times just to explore, to expand our horizons, to keep our minds sharp, to challenge ourselves, and to introduce us to new and interesting people as well as to new areas of interest that might unexpectedly catch hold of our imagination.
You should consider learning opportunities that are not “just for seniors,” because this will help keep you connected to a more diverse range of individuals. In particular it will connect you with younger people whose attitudes and insights, and possibly even whose friendship, can help keep you young.
But you should also consider opportunities for learning with others just in your own age group, because it will be easier to make friends there, and because sometimes people who share, to some degree, your history and outlook make more supportive partners in learning.
You probably also have enough knowledge in more than one area to consider teaching. You may not have the formal qualifications to teach in an accredited academic program, but there are plenty of afternoon or evening classes being offered through schools and colleges, libraries, and other community organizations, or you could become the leader, instructor or coach, in a club that you form yourself, or perhaps one that already exists. Watch local advertising for programs in your area, and see if they need a teacher with your expertise (but keep in mind, if you have not been a teacher before, it’s a lot harder than it looks!).
- Free resources:
- “Lifelong Learning,” on Wikipedia.com, provides an overview of this subject plus links to related topics and to outside references (rating = A). Also see “Lifelong Learning” at Answers.com (rating = A).
- “15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning” by Scott H. Young at LifeHack.com is a briefly annotated list of strategies you can adopt – a useful list, though you’ll need to figure out how to make these suggestions work (rating = A-).
- “Teaching Adult Learners: Tips and Styles,” on the I-TECH website, is a Microsoft Word document listing basic truths about adult learners and some corresponding strategies you can use to adapt to those truths (rating = A-).
- “ESLgo.com” and “ESL Mania” are useful resources for teachers and students of English as a second language, a subject for which teachers continue to be needed and for which extensive academic training is not required (rating = A-).
- Combine education with travel by studying in a foreign country. “Going Global: A College Student's Road Map to Studying Abroad” tells you how (rating = A).
- Other resources:
- The “Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes” have been established at over 100 colleges and universities. This site provides a description and a list of the participating institutions (rating = A- for the website; the institutes themselves appear to deserve an A). In addition, most universities, colleges, community colleges, and many high schools and vocational schools have their own programs for adults, whom they see as an expanding market for educational opportunities in a time of tight budgets. If you’re not hearing about such programs locally, check the websites of local schools and colleges, call, or drop in – chances are, you’ll find something going on.
- To learn about 2-year degree programs at the community college level, visit the “Plus50” website from the American Association of Community Colleges (rating = A-). To search for degree and non-degree programs, in person or online, try “Learnlinx,” which they bill as your launchpad for lifelong learning (rating = A).
- Beyond the American Dream: Lifelong Learning and the Search for Meaning in a Postmodern World, and The Rapture Of Maturity: A Legacy Of Lifelong Learning, both by Charles D. Hayes, make a more scholarly case (in the former book) and a more inspirational case (in the latter book) for lifelong learning, and especially for a focus on learning in the second half of life (ratings = A).
- Books on the the theory and techniques of lifelong learning: Success Skills: Strategies for Study and Lifelong Learning, by Abby Marks-Beale, focuses on “learning how to learn” – developing the skills you need to get the most out of your learning opportunities (not rated). Also, Successful Lifelong Learning: Ten Tactics for Today and Tomorrow, by Robert L. Steinbach (not rated).
- Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach: The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults, by Jane Vella, is an excellent guide if you aspire to teach other adults (rating = A). Also, Adult Learning Basics, by William J. Rothwell, designed to help you train, coach, and mentor effectively, but from a more theoretical perspective and with some emphasis on workplace learning (rating = A-).
- See also:
- Be one of the crowd: Go to plays, movies, sporting events, concerts, zoos, museums, and other public attractions.
Even if you are relatively immobile, and even if you are alone, you can get out and enjoy public entertainments. But of course, such excursions are the most fun when you do them with friends or family.
For the most part, local newspapers (and their websites) will give you the most up-to-date information about what’s going on in your area, and often will provide reviews for many of them, so you have some idea what you’re in for. With a computer, you can probably get automatic updates from your favorite locales, or follow them on Facebook, or Twitter or other social websites. If you have a smart phone, you can check things out even when you're already on the go. But we list some other resources that work on a national basis to help you find enjoyable entertainment in your own locality.
- Free resources:
- “Moviefone,” for movies across the country, including summaries and reviews (rating = A+).
- “Theater Mania,” unlike most theatre websites, provides decent coverage of shows outside of New York. The “League of Resident Theatres” can link you to dozens of theatre companies across the country, so you can see what’s available near you (rating = A-).
- “Pollstar.com” can let you know about concerts that are going on in your area, or can help you follow a certain performer or group (rating = A).
- “Our Sports Central” can keep you posted on minor league events in baseball, basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and other sports (rating = A).
- Use “Google Maps” to locate museums (or parks or other kinds of fixed locations) anywhere in the U.S. First, indicate that you want to set a default location, and enter your home address. Then just type “museums” as the place you want to search for, and click “Search Maps” – you will probably discover a lot of interesting places you didn’t know about. In most cases, Google will link you to additional information, including the museum website. Of course, you can search for just about any other kind of amusement as well. (rating = A).
- “USA Zoos” is the official directory of zoos, aquariums, safaris, and wildlife sanctuaries and preserves in the U.S. (rating = A).
- Other resources:
- “Ticketmaster” will sell you tickets to big-time concerts, plays, sporting events, and family entertainment, though not for regional theater, minor league sports, and non-headliner concerts – and they will charge you a service fee on top of the ticket price (rating = A-).
- “Top Ticket Auction Sites” are listed and described at 100AuctionSites.com (rating = A). Some are true auction sites, where other individuals who own tickets are trying to sell them, and other sites represent wholesalers who buy blocks of tickets and then resell them. But most of these sites cover a wide range of activities – not just major events, but speaking tours, festivals, magic shows, and any other entertainment that has a for-profit angle to it. This site include links to eBay, StubHub, CraigsList, and several lesser-known sites. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to buy tickets – you can use these sites just to find out what’s happening.
- See also:
- Do things with friends and neighbors: Join a club, a reading or discussion group, a sewing circle, a local chorale, a church group, a coffee klatch, a group that plays chess, cards, cribbage, mahjong, bingo, or whatever amuses you.
- Free resources:
Local groups that are open to new members often have their meetings and other activities listed in local newspapers, or on your own or neighboring towns’ municipal websites. Other group activities are sponsored by churches, senior centers, municipal or county park departments, veterans’ groups, fraternal organizations, neighborhood associations, political parties, and sometimes by schools or youth organizations. Some groups do not publicize what they do – reading groups, sewing circles, and other informal groups are typically like that – but if you have an interest and ask around, you can probably find a group that might let you in, or by asking around enough, you might find a sufficient number of other like-minded people to start your own.
Not all, or even most, social activities are formally organized, of course. If you have or develop an interest in something, you can usually find one or two other people who share it. If you get hooked on a new kind of game, for instance, you can teach someone else how to play, and you may be all set for a long time to come.
Need some ideas? “Activities for Seniors,” at LoveToKnow.com, links you to pages on specific topics, including games and other activities you can pursue with others (Rating = A-). But most board games, card games, and other such amusements are not age-specific, so you might also check the relevant page on “Board Games,” (rating = A-). See also “Card Games” at Pagat, com, which covers both card and tile games, and where you can find rules and instructions for hundreds of them (rating = A).
- Other resources:
- The “eNASCO” site offers games and exercise equipment specifically geared to older adults (rating = A).
- The Accessible Games Book, by Katie Marl, discusses games that can be played by people with disabilities (not rated).
- Senior Trivia: Fun Trivia Questions from the Golden Age of Entertainment, by D. L. King, offers trivia questions for people who did not grow up watching MTV (not rated).
- The “Senior Moments” board game – a memory game you play with others, though you don’t really have to be a “senior” to play (rating = A-).
- “Low Vision Playing Cards” are available with gigantic numbers/letters for the seriously vision-impaired. Other similar products are also listed on Amazon.com and other outlets.
- See also:
- Just hang out: Visit or invite a friend; dine out, drop in at the pub or the park or the senior center, cruise the mall or local flea market.
Socializing isn’t just fun – it can improve how your brain works, and help fend off dementia. “Socializing Can Help Elderly Women Stay Sharp,” an article on the Medical News Today website, reports on a study from the American Journal of Public Health that indicates these results.
Of course, socializing also solidifies your relations with friends and family, as well as offering you the opportunity to make new friends. And these relationships, in turn, are not only enjoyable but further increase opportunities to be active, to meet even more new people, to be drawn into new shared interests, to exchange encouragement and other positive sentiments, and sometimes to have someone be there for you when you need a hand.
If you are unable to get around well on your own, invite people in to see you. If you are not a natural host or hostess, then arrange to meet them at a neutral place that you can get to and that can accommodate any special requirements you have. This might mean wheelchair access, or at least an absence of crowds and clutter if your mobility is impaired, a minimum of background noise if your hearing is impaired, a willingness for a restaurant to prepare meals to order if you have dietary restrictions, and so on. Many businesses cater to older customers, offering senior discounts, a menu of foods that are less spicy or easier to chew, and other accommodations – so if you have special requirements or preferences, just ask.
Some cities have been promoting use of “Elder Friendly Certification” for businesses that best accommodate older patrons, but this is not yet widespread enough to be helpful in all areas.
- Free resources:
- Use the “Eldercare Locator” to find your local Area Agency on Aging, who then can tell you about senior centers, as well as places of business that cater to older customers in the local area (rating = A).
- “SeniorDiscounts.com” lists over 150,000 businesses willing to give discounts to older patrons. Even if you don’t care about the discount, you can use this site to find all kinds of businesses, including restaurants, that are trying to attract this clientele. Those are the places most likely to be willing to help meet any special needs you have (rating = A).
- See also:
- Interact online: Use the internet to chat, play games, and share (ideas, news, photos, etc.) with friends and strangers alike.
As helpful as the internet can be as a way to communicate with family and friends, it is also a place where you can interact with all kinds of people in other ways that are informative, challenging, and just plain fun. Such opportunities are, in fact, innumerable, and expanding all the time. So here we will aim mostly to give you a sense of the categories of opportunities that are out there, and links to a few specific places that can get you started.
Although internet experience is not the same thing, of course, as face-to-face interaction, it can be close to that. If you like, you can equip your computer with a camera and/or a microphone, so that with some internet services (though not most of them), you can actually have live communication. But even without those extra features, the internet has many advantages. For one thing, there are always other people out there, so no matter when you’re in the mood for interaction, it’s available. For another thing, there are many different ways you can interact, so no matter what you’re in the mood for, you can find it. And since you don’t have to leave home, you don’t have to make yourself presentable (yes, if you have a camera attached, you can turn it off!), and if you have trouble getting around, well, you don’t need to worry about that. If you are vision- or hearing-impaired, you can get appropriate modifications to your computer.
These days, it's not hard (though it might be moderately expensive) to interact online even when you're away from home, using mobile devices such as tablet computers and smart phones.
If computers and other electronics are foreign territory to you, you can take classes in the basics (another excuse to get out and connect with people). Or just ask around – these days, moderate familiarity with computers is commonplace enough so that a lot of people (including most young people) can help you out. Computer retailers are also happy to help you, though they are likely to charge you something for their time.
- Free resources:
- Internet chat rooms and messenger services are a way to communicate semi-anonymously with other people who share your interests or outlook. You may need special software (which can easily be downloaded and installed, following the directions on these sites), then you register and select a “screen name,” which is what other people will see (not necessarily your real name). Now you are ready either to communicate directly with others you have already “met” online, or to just enter an interesting-sounding “chat room” to see what people are saying, and then join in, if you wish. Warning: “Adult” chat rooms are not for everyone – this label generally indicates sexually explicit conversation, not a mature age. Many special-interest websites offer chat rooms, but to start with, it might be safer to start with a well-established, general service like “Yahoo Messenger” (rating = A). Also check out "Senior Chat Rooms," on LoveToKnow.com, for leads on internet chat rooms specifically for older adults.
- Blogs and forums: “Blogs” is short for “Web logs” – which are websites where an individual or an organization starts a conversation about a topic of interest, and invites comments from readers. “Forums” are sites where anyone who registers with the site can open a topic for discussion. These days, you can find blogs and forums on all kinds of websites, and no matter how specific your interest is, you can find sites that will allow you to participate in this kind of conversation. The difference between these options and chat rooms is that chat rooms are “real time” conversations – participants are communicating back and forth in rapid fashion. This sometimes happens on blogs and forums, but in these venues, comments remain posted more or less permanently, and most do not get a direct response from anyone, though some do. To find blogs or forums for you, you can just do an internet search on a topic that interests you, and usually the biggest sites that cater to your interests will offer these features. Or you can check out one of the blog directories such as: “BlogCatalog.com” or “Blogging Fusion”, or one of the forum directories, such as “ForumsInfo.com”.
- Interactive games are available for free on quite a few sites. On these sites, you are playing live against real people. “Free Online Multiplayer Interactive Games” is a great place to start, because it connects you to a wide variety of games on various sites: in addition to traditional board games and card games, there are also word games, strategy and war games, action games, sports games, and others. They will also link you to other multi-game sites (rating = A+).
- Need more? The internet is at your service. We suggest you look at Wikipedia's “Social Media” web page for an overview of the subject and then following the links at the end of the main text (but before the footnote section) taking you to lists of social networking sites and to photo and video sharing sites (rating = A+).
- Other resources:
- Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Projects to Start Blogging Like a Pro, by Tris Hussey. Yes, you can create your own blog site, and this book tells you how (rating = A). Or try Blogging For Dummies, by Amy Lupold Bair and Susannah Gardner (rating = A).
- 135 Tips on Email and Instant Messages: Plus Blogs, Chatrooms, and Texting, by Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts, offers lots of useful pointers for people starting out, or needing a refresher, in effective online communication (rating = A-).
- See also:
©2015 Still River Retirement Planning Software, Inc. / RetirementWORKS, Inc.