In May, we mark Older Americans Month, which honors our seniors, highlights their contributions to our society and raises awareness of vital national aging issues. The annual event is sponsored by the federal government’s Administration on Community Living (ACL). In 2017, its theme is Age Out Loud.
“This theme shines a light on many important trends,” the ACL stated. “More than ever before, older Americans are working longer, trying new things, and engaging in their communities. They’re taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others. What it means to age has changed.”
How can older people in Cincinnati and the Tristate age out loud this month? Here are a few of our suggestions.
1. Start a second career
Who said you have to retire at 65? Americans are living and staying vital longer than ever before. You don’t have to hit retirement age and sit around, if you don’t want to.
You could go back to school and learn a new trade. Many Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana colleges and universities offer tuition-free courses to seniors. You could contribute your talents in a field interests you, instead of expending energy and time holding down a job that merely provides you with steady income.
You could get a part-time job to get out of the house, give you an opportunity to socialize on the regular and give you some extra pocket money.
You could even engage your passions, start your own business and build opportunities for the younger members of our community!
You’ve garnered a considerable number of skills and a whole lot of wisdom over the course of your life to date. Why not put them to use making a difference right here in Cincinnati?
That’s certainly what participants in Episcopal Retirement Services’ Council for Lifelong Engagement (CLLE) do. The CLLE pairs senior speakers with Tristate teachers to develop informative, on-curriculum programs that help children learn about the career possibilities open to them, while showing them that older people have quite a bit to offer.
Since forming in 2009, the Council has partnered with local schools including Kilgour Elementary School, Mount Notre Dame High School, Nativity School, St. Andrew School and St. Cecilia School. The Council has a goal of expanding the program in the 2017-2018 school year adding new partner schools.
Maybe you want to get involved in local politics or advocate for your community? Are you interested in helping to keep public spaces green, clean and safe? Ever wanted to serve as a museum docent or tour guide?
Fight ageism and fill community needs right here in Cincinnati! If you have time and a willingness to help, find a cause and a community organization that needs volunteers, and donate your time.
3. Learn a new skill or hobby
Always wanted to go scuba diving or fly a plane? Do you love visiting our National Parks and monuments, hiking, birding or climbing? Are you a writer, musician, aspiring community actor or visual artist? Maybe you just want to become a better bowler, or learn how to grow your own vegetables and herbs?
There are so many things you could do in your retirement. Try blogging about your experiences, or starting a social media account to document your experiences — triumphs and defeats alike. You could find a whole new set of people to engage with, to inspire and to be inspired by.
4. Eat healthy
How did that old jazz standard go? Eat an apple every day, take a nap at 3, take good care of yourself, you belong to me! OK, you don’t belong to anybody (except mutually to your closest loved ones), but you are a vital part of your circle of friends, your neighborhood and our larger community.
Keep yourself well by eating well. Get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Stay away from the fried stuff and stick to reasonable portions of lean meats. Splurge on dessert once or twice a week (you’ve earned it), but otherwise, keep trim and don’t let your waistline go.
You can ward off obesity, heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer and a whole host of other serious, chronic illnesses that have been linked to poor diets.
Part and parcel with eating right is living right. Get a daily walk in. Hit the weight circuit and the pool. Play tennis, golf, racquetball, or basketball. Whatever you do, keep moving.
Why? Because it will keep you healthy. It’ll keep you limber. And it’ll keep your heart, lungs and other vitals working efficiently long into the future. You can have 10 to 20 more years of good life after retirement, or you could have 40 or more. If you don’t stay in shape, one outcome is more likely than the other.
6. Stretch your brain
Our natural curiosity, our abilities to acquire new knowledge and new skills never cease. Go back to school. Read every interesting book you can get your hands on. Travel. Research your interests online. Experience the performing and visual arts. Take guided tours of museums, historical and cultural sites.
If you allow your brain to rest to long, it gets bored. And a bored brain is a brain that begins to shut itself off from the world. Don’t let it. Keep your thinking cap on!
7. Plan for the future
You have a future. Life isn’t over once you retire. You could make the argument that you’ve finally accumulated enough time, resources, knowledge, skills, experience, empathy and wisdom for life to finally begin.
So, keep planning for the future. Assume you’ll be there to experience it. Plan awesome things to do, trips to take, visits to make and get-togethers for your family and friends.
Moreover, take steps to protect that future. Remember to stay on top of your financial planning. Keep a tight rein on your budget and live within your means. Budget out for residential retirement care, so that if and when you need a little more help with daily living, you’ll have the means to be in the retirement community you want to be in, receiving the quality, person-centered care you deserve.
This Older Americans Month, age out loud.
Show the Tristate just how vital, active and engaged seniors are in our community. You can help us as we strive to meet our goal of eradicating ageism and making this one of the most age-inclusive cities in the world — just by being you, as conspicuously as you can!