Seniors have a great deal to offer their families, friends and communities. Most importantly, they have a great deal to offer to themselves. It might feel selfish at any age to prioritize self-care, but for seniors it’s critical for healthy aging. That being said, after a life often focused on giving to others, it can be hard to embrace giving to oneself.
However challenging it may be, seniors who emphasize self-care tend to enjoy their golden years much more than those who don’t. Why is that? Because, as the old proverb says, you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you want to have meaning and fulfillment in retirement, it’s important to take charge of your physical and mental health. Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Here are a few ways you can prioritize self-care as a senior, boosting your overall sense of mental and physical well-being, as well as your ability to give more of yourself to your family, friends and community.
Outsource Home Maintenance
You may have more time on your hands in retirement, but that doesn’t mean it should be spent at the top of a ladder, inhaling harsh chemicals or putting pressure on your knees scrubbing floors. While you may be quite capable of keeping up with your home, there are many good reasons to hire professionals to tackle the lawn (usually costs around $30 – $45 per mowing), landscaping and deep cleaning. For starters, some of those chores could increase your risk of a slip or fall. Plus, outsourcing help allows you to spend more time on projects you enjoy, tasks that give you deeper fulfillment. And, on the bright side, in many circumstances a one-time deep clean can be fairly affordable. In fact, most Savage homeowners only spend between $136 and $200 for an interior house cleaning.
Volunteer and Give Back
It’s not uncommon for seniors to feel a lack of purpose in retirement. After years of working and being dedicated to raising a family, free time without projects, deadlines, play dates and soccer games can be disorienting. Our identities become wrapped up in what we do — so when that changes, you have to redefine yourself or risk becoming stagnant. Volunteering is a great way to fill the void. You can work for a cause that you are really invested in. If you care about childhood cancer, serve meals at the Ronald McDonald House. If you want to keep using your professional skills, you can donate them to a nonprofit, like helping with bookkeeping for your local Boys & Girls Club or offering leadership by serving on the board of directors for a not-for-profit. And if you aren’t sure what to do, but know you want to help, you can look on the internet for a database of volunteer opportunities in your area.
Explore New Hobbies
Retirement comes with ample opportunities to learn new skills and explore new experiences — if you know where to look. Have you secretly always wanted to perform? Audition for a role in community theatre. Does painting seem like a good way to ease anxiety and relax? Take a class at a senior center, community college or arts and crafts store. Do you want to be more computer savvy so you can video chat with your grandkids? There are plenty of in-person and online computer literacy courses designed just for seniors and their needs. Learning a new skill can help you reduce your risk of depression, while improving your brain function to help ward off dementia.
You only have one life and now — in your golden years — is your time to enjoy it. You have a better chance of doing that when you make decisions that boost your mental and physical health. Take control of your health as you age by prioritizing activities that stimulate both your mind and body.
ABOUT THE GUEST AUTHOR:
Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well