Are you engaged?
Keeping Engaged Socially is good for your health!
We are not talking about your marital status. We mean, do you participate in activities that connect you with other people? As people get older, their social lives oftentimes slow down for a variety of reasons. When it is unwanted, this can lead to loneliness and isolation. Research has shown that for older adults, staying engaged in enjoyable activities is associated with better physical and mental health. As we age, being involved with others is strongly associated with better brain function. So it is not only fun, it is good for you! You might not have ever imagined that while you were singing in the church choir, or meeting with your book club, or volunteering at the animal shelter that you were actually improving your brain health!
In addition, research has shown that learning a new activity for older people can provide some “insurance” against memory loss. However, it cannot prevent progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
There are many ways to get involved in your local community. Some to consider include:
- Go back to school—audit a class at a local college or take a class related to a hobby.
- Participate in sports—whether tai chi or tennis, there’s something for every interest and ability.
- Head outdoors—join a walking, hiking, or bird watching group.
- Make music—join a choir or band or take lessons.
- Get involved—participate with a church, temple, or other religious organization.
- Read, join, participate, or start a book club.
- Volunteer for a cause or group you’re passionate about.
- Take classes at a gym.
- Find (or start!) a group that fits your passion —whether it’s knitting or carpentry.
- Indulge your creativity —stage a play with friends, create a themed-dining dinner club, or take an art class.
There are national organizations that can help connect you with these kinds of activities, including:
- Websites like VolunteerMatch, Idealist, and AARP’s Create the Good help connect people and nonprofits who care about similar causes.
- AARP’s Experience Corps is an AmeriCorps program that trains adults 50+ to tutor elementary students who aren’t reading at grade level.
- The American Volkssport Association is a national organization promoting physical fitness, with has many local clubs that sponsor walks and other fitness events.
- Meetup is a website that helps connect people with common interests of all kinds, so they can meet up and enjoy discussions and activities.
- SilverSneakers is a national network of gyms with free membership for those with participating health plans, and a community of other adults seeking to remain fit and involved.
- The Senior Theater Resource center provides information for older adults interested in performing.
- Encore.org is an online resource for those interested in utilizing their experience and knowledge to do work—paid or unpaid—with social impact, to benefit future generations.
So why not take some steps to stay connected and keep your brain healthy – through an activity you enjoy – with your community?
For more information: