One of the questions that has befuddled mankind for centuries is how to stay young. We age. We die. We don't like that we age and die, and some of us have a difficult time accepting it.
And why should we accept it? Why shouldn't seniors living in Cincinnati and beyond try to find ways to stay young? What does "young" really mean?
If there's one thing that the concept of positive aging teaches us, it's that age and health can't really be measured by a standard set of criteria. Our mental, emotional, spiritual and financial wellness play just as much into how "old" we feel as our physical health does.
Some people are physically old, but feel mentally and emotionally young. Some people look young, but feel mentally and emotionally spent.
Being young, to a certain degree, is a state of mind. So, today, let's talk about four creative ways that seniors in Cincinnati can use to stay young.
Go outdoors and play.
Remember that classic Twilight Zone episode, "Kick the Can?"
In it, a group of seniors (who lament feeling useless and forgotten), discover that playing an outdoor game they'd loved in their youth is, in fact, the secret to rejuvenation. At night, they sneak out of their retirement home and play Kick the Can under the streetlights.
One of the residents, Ben, believes that the others have lost their minds. He refuses to play. The result? He's left behind — alone and despairing — when the others are transformed back into children.
Can playing outdoors really turn back the clock on your life? In the magical sense, no. But in the psychological sense, yes, of course it can.
Play wiffleball or bocce with the grandkids. Go swimming. Hike. Go to the park on Saturday nights this spring and watch the kids play soccer. Just get out of the stuffy old house with its dust and its dim light. You'll find yourself feeling younger almost immediately.
Get involved in a community theater company.
OK, so outdoors might not be your thing. But how about helping to put on a show?
There are a plethora of community and amateur theater groups in the Tristate, and they're always looking for undiscovered talent. From beloved musicals, to classic stage comedies and dramas, to avant garde and underground productions, there are always plays to try out for that would suit your taste.
Heck, even if you aren't the singing-and-dancing type, there's a role for you backstage: lighting, sound, stage crew, ticket sales, ushers, promotions volunteers, costumers, makeup artists and more are all needed to get a show off the ground.
You'll meet plenty of new friends — most likely, from across the age spectrum — and you'll have a blast to boot!
Join a group that speaks to your interests.
Whatever your interests are, there's almost bound to be a group of folks in the Greater Cincinnati area who share your passions. Why not meet them, learn and have fun along with them?
Joining a community interest group is an excellent way not only to stay active and socialize, but to bridge the generational divide. Most interest groups have members of a wide range of ages, so you can make friends with younger adults and older adults alike.
Tour your own city.
What are you interested in learning more about? The hidden history of the Queen City? Architecture? Breweries or distilleries? Art?
There are so many opportunities for you to get out and learn about the hidden aspects of life and culture here in the Tristate. Tours are a great way to learn about them.
Some companies, like Cincinnati ice cream giant Graeter's and Norwood startup distillery Shumrick & Leys, offer tours of their facilities and even allow you to try out their products during the tour.
There are subject-based tours, too: food tourism, for example, is a burgeoning method of touring one's own hometown and learning about its cuisine, risk-free.
Many local museums and attractions offer docent-guided tours of their exhibits. The Cincinnati Art Museum offers tours by request; it's a fantastic opportunity to gather your senior friends and your family members and culture up!
The key to staying young is to act young.
To a certain extent, age really is a state of mind. Positive aging is just that: maintaining your positivity as you grow older.
You don't have to go outside and kick the can to feel like a kid again. But sitting inside all day in front of your TV isn't going to help you feel young, either. Engage your passions. Get out and get involved!