“You’re only as old as you feel.” These words are undoubtedly wise. Yet, it’s often easier said than done to recapture that youthful zest for life.
Instead of berating yourself if it doesn’t come easily, spend some time recalling activities that you may have dropped over time — or interests that you always meant to explore but never had time to until recently.
Insist on Your Own Goals
What makes you feel independent and youthful might not be the same things your friends, relatives, or neighbors enjoy. Only you can assess what you truly enjoy and what will lift your spirits.
For example, in your mind, not getting “old” might mean continuing to keep a lush patio garden or cooking elaborate meals. If so, spending your energy on those independent living activities a few times a week might very well be what keeps your spirit going the rest of the time.
Staying youthful could also mean continuing to work at your old job, or to volunteer within a field of your choosing.
On the other hand, taking on things that you never had time for pre-retirement might be what gives you a sense of purposeful living and positive aging. From sailing lessons to hiking excursions, you don’t have to give in to the idea that you’re past your prime. (Of course, checking with your doctor and verifying the credentials of those leading your adventures is also crucial before you begin!)
Going Really Young
If there’s one benefit of old age, it’s the joy of turning the phrase “second childhood” on its head. In other words, why not revisit activities from your youth?
Many seniors take time to rediscover hobbies like constructing train sets or building miniature homes and furniture. Others might return to collecting antique toys or making doll clothes.
So what if you need to take entry-level classes to master a totally new hobby? Where a middle-aged person might feel embarrassed to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on the piano, there’s no reason to feel self-conscious if beginner lessons are the first step to achieving a long-buried goal!
So, What’s Next?
It may be that in recent years, your sense of purposeful living, especially the types of activities that make you feel youthful, have dwindled. If you’re not sure how to jump-start that joie de vivre, consider these possibilities — if only to provide a jumping-off place for your imagination:
- Get “classy.” It’s never too late to take a class in something that’s always interested you but that you never had the chance to pursue. Local community colleges usually have credit-free programs in everything from basket-weaving to genealogy. Or you can join clubs like The Great Courses or Masterclass for a range of topics. If you’d like to pursue certification in your field or pick up a new hobby, check out platforms such as LinkedIn Learning or Skillshare.
- Rediscover your activist side. It can be hard to fight for your causes in the thick of an overly busy life. But now that you’re living in (or considering) an independent living community, you may have more time to get involved in volunteerism. You might find it fun to link up with like-minded people to help stuff envelopes or staff tables at rallies. But if you can also offer specific skills, a group like AARP’s Experience Corps can match your skills to your passions.
- Ask your fellow seniors. Do you have friends or relatives who are raving about the new worlds opened up for them by moving to an independent living community? If so, ask them more about it. If what you learn sounds intriguing, then arrange for a tour.
Feeling Youthful in a Retirement Community
Moving to an independent living community can help you live more purposefully and achieve your goals more readily than living on your own.
At the Deupree House in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park, for example, you’ll find a full calendar of activities, along with talks on specific subjects, arts and craft classes, and field trips to the theater and cinemas. There are also opportunities to find community with fellow residents through get-togethers for Bingo, Bible study, book club, or whatever appeals to you.
And, of course, our extensive Wellness Center programs offer everything from tai chi to balance classes and “mind fit” activities.
Wherever you plan to live as you tackle your positive aging goals, remember that filling your days with meaningful pursuits is a pivotal way of feeling youthful.