This part of your life should be filled with as many retirement activities you can handle but there is a word of warning that is attached. One of the most important things anyone can do each year, but especially those who entered their “golden years”, is to get an annual health assessment. Part of that examination should include a conversation with your health professional about the physical activity level you’re capable of and an exercise program that will allow you to stay as active as possible for as long as you can.
Sadly, too many of our friends have experienced health problems and we consider our present good health one of our greatest blessings. Retirement activities are, of course, guided by your physical condition as well as your mental capacity. The latter is gaining more attention as study after study shows the importance of keeping your brain as stimulated as possible. It is one of the building blocks of this website to stress the importance of learning and the value of new challenges – physical as well as mental.
Why not take up a new sport such as golf? Start fishing or boating or even going on nature walks. Learn about the creatures who share your surroundings. My wife’s new book about bird watching has started her down the path of becoming familiar with beautiful winged creatures that fly by on our lake.
Retirement activities do not have to be strenuous but sometimes they are. If you have the desire and if your health allows, you shouldn’t eliminate anything if it’s something you have always wanted to do but a full health assessment is extremely important before taking on any strenuous retirement activities. But you don’t need a clean bill of health to take up billiards or become the newest member of the local poker club. Anything that provides socialization and things to learn can provide tremendous enjoyment and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Any idea that ever appealed to you should be fair game. A friend of mine joined a Monopoly group that plays every week with a championship playoff every year. He knows of another group that meets and plays other games like Rich Uncle and Clue on a regular basis. One of our friends takes her Backgammon quite seriously and, although I never learned to play Bridge well, I know there are some serious players out there.
Although being healthy is obviously an advantage, there are activities for those who are not able to move around very well. The key is to stay busy. Book your calendar with activities that you enjoy. In the better assisted living homes that we’ve visited, the calendar and choice of activities is very impressive and everyone is welcome.
Part of your schedule should include some physical activity if at all possible and you should, of course, consult your physician to see what is safe for you to do and create goals to strive for. At this point, you should strive for a program that promotes things like flexibility and balance. There are program in gyms and health clubs designed specifically for seniors and there are also programs that you can find online that will help you stay in shape. The goal is to keep the imagination and desire alive and find a way to help your body keep up with the pace! Even a brisk walk in the park will help you stay in shape – anything is better than sitting on the couch.
In the self assessment process that was discussed in the Retirement Planning section we touched on the different activities that you may have participated in during your youth. They shouldn’t remain distant memories. Those fun times can come alive again. That’s what retirement is for. I always hated for summer to end. Going back to school meant less time to do the things I really enjoyed like playing baseball and watching it. I lived for the game and used to keep score while I was watching. It’s a shame how expensive it has become to go to a game, but I can watch my favorite team now whenever I want. I still like to keep score and read statistics. Companies like StratoMatic and APBA have tabletop games or computerized games where you can re-create a season. I even made my own game when I was about twelve. I found it in an old box that I had in a basement. It brought back some great memories and I added it to my list of things that I might do again in the future when my physical activity might not be what it is today.
That might be a sad thought for some people to consider but it’s just part of reality. Life happens in stages and retirement does as well. There will be the more active years early on but everyone should keep in mind that their desire to spend a whole day sightseeing or running through Disney World may become something that needs to happen in smaller doses and a slower pace as the calendar turns it’s pages each month. It does not mean you have to stop living or enjoying life – absolutely not. It just means that the way you approach life will change. I have learned to savor things a little bit more and realize the quality of an experience may have taken precedence over the quantity of different things I try to do.
We seem to see more retired people as we travel (maybe because everyone else is working) and many of them have shirts or hats that name the places they’ve been to in the same way you would stamp a passport. We have been fortunate enough to have been to most of the places that we see represented in the clothing that they wear. Every one of them has a memory attached and planning out your retirement activities will build those memories and allow you to savor those experiences to the fullest. So, take a moment, and start thinking about all those things you used to love and make plans to do them again. It’s time to Enjoy Retired Life.