Based on the results of a 2016 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology, when older adults pursue hobbies on a consistent basis, they can reap a number of benefits such as an increased life expectancy, cognitive function, independent mobility, social connection, and overall sense of purpose.
Leisure activities can foster independent senior living, as well as enhance physical, mental, and emotional health. If you or an older loved one wants to spice up their day-to-day, try the following four unique hobbies.
1. Delve into Your Family’s Heritage
Genealogy can be therapeutic for seniors. Knowledge of where you came from creates a multi-generational family bond which, in turn, can pass down to children and grandchildren. Researching heritage opens the door to conversations between older adults and younger family members, who otherwise might not feel they have much in common. The study and discussion of genealogy can reveal shared origin stories, experiences, traditions, and identities—all of which build camaraderie. What’s more, family history can also be a topic of conversation and point of connection for fellow older adults in a senior community.
Studying heritage is also a hobby with long-term benefits. Learning personal and historical narratives, then communicating them to the family can increase resilience, confidence, and self-awareness in younger generations adds a New York Times article.
2. Start the Day with a Yoga Practice
The mind-body connection that yoga reinforces is ideal for seniors as they continue to age. Mindfulness keeps their brains focused and memories sharp, while the actual poses keep their bodies flexible, strong, and balanced. This is important for all areas of health since a robust body is more equipped to withstand injuries or disease, and an agile mind is less prone to anxiety, depression, loneliness or cognitive decline. According to AARP, a routine yoga practice:
- Calms the nervous system to reduce the effects of hypertension
- Increases bone density to minimize the risk of osteoporosis
- Lubricates the joints to manage arthritis
- Promotes relaxation to enhance the mood state
At Vineyard Bluffton, we take advantage of the benefits of this practice, by hosting a weekly Chair Yoga class.
3. Learn to Speak Another Language
The notion of trying to learn a second language as an older adult may seem too difficult and unrealistic. However, don’t be discouraged. The Scientific Reports Journal found that when a brain studies a non-native language, it adapts by deleting old neural pathways and forming or revitalizing pathways that can absorb, process, and retain new information. In simpler terms, anyone can be taught another language, no matter their age—whether it involves ordering croissants in French or conversing with a neighbor in Spanish.
There is a major benefit to speaking more than one language too. Ellen Bialystok, a psycholinguist at York University, found that bilingual seniors don’t exhibit dementia symptoms as early as those who speak one language, The Guardian reports. Meaning, speaking another language can help you stave off the effects of dementia for nearly 4 to 5 years.
4. Unleash Your Creativity
The arts and crafts world is not limited to millennials with Pinterest boards—it’s never too late for seniors to hone their creative expression. Consider artistic hobbies such as scrapbooking, crocheting, baking, gardening, or painting. Creative activities can also be a form of emotional catharsis and an outlet to foster relationships. “If by improving a person’s sense of happiness and social connection through creative engagement, we can reduce isolation and depression, we could be able to delay significant contact with the healthcare system […] Making art with others can counteract these negative impacts and instead promote increased self-esteem, motivation, and social connection,” notes Dr. Raquel Stephenson, an assistant professor of expressive therapies at Lesley University.
Fun Hobbies for Independent Senior Living
Hobbies and activities help keep older adults active and engaged. At Vineyard Bluffton, our programming promotes independent senior living, as well as exercises the body and mind. Take a look at our sample calendar that includes activities like aquatic therapy, painting with a twist, and “do you remember” happy hours.