After years of planning and imagining, you’ve finally retired. You may have spent time relaxing, traveling and enjoying family time, but if you find that you’re feeling bored and a bit out of touch, it may be time to explore a new hobby.
Brittany Blue with Sound Generations says it’s important for older adults to take up a hobby or get involved in activities so they can stay engaged in their community and with their peer group.
“Far too often you see older adults becoming isolated in their older age,” said Blue. “Isolation leads to loneliness, which can often times lead into depression, malnutrition, and spiral into a host of chronic disease and health issues. “
Here are some ideas to get you started:
If you’re an avid reader and would like to make this a more social activity, a book club could be a good fit. To find a group, first consult your local library. The King County Library System has an online list of book clubs. Meetup is also a good place to search, and if you’re on Facebook you can search for groups there. Barnes and Noble stores host a book club as well.
Whether you’re a skilled artist or would like to learn, Urban Sketchers is for you. USk was started by Seattle Times sketch artist Gabriel Campanario and has expanded worldwide. Urban sketchers draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what they see from direct observation. Local chapters host regular sketching outings and workshops, and USk hosts symposiums everywhere from Portugal to Hong Kong.
Learn a new language
You’re never too old to learn a new language. While children may pick up languages instinctively, adults enjoy the advantage of having greater focus and purpose. Studies show learning a language is a great way to give your brain a workout and strengthen cognitive functioning as you age. You’ll find classes at your local college. You’ll also find online language courses and apps.
Learn to play an instrument
Just like with language, learning a musical instrument is great for your brain, plus it’s just plain fun and can be a great opportunity for social gatherings. The ukulele is inexpensive to buy and is one of the easiest to learn. There are ukulele clubs that can help you get started. For music instruction, check out your local college or music store or go online to find a teacher for individual lessons. Many instructors offer instruction via Skype.
Many nonprofit and community organizations need help and much of it comes from volunteers. You may already have skills that can be valuable to an organization, or you may want to try something completely new. VolunteerMatch offers information about opportunities in your community. They can help you determine what type of organization is a good fit for you and how your skills and interests match.
Go back to school
More than two dozen Washington state colleges offer programs for retirees and active seniors. For example, Washington residents 60 years and older may attend University of Washington courses as auditing students. Seniorresource.com has a list of institutions that offer programs.
Take a walk
If you like walking and would like to meet new people, the American Volkssport Association is a good place to start. The largest walking organization in the United States, the AVA offers thousands of organized walks. Their aim is to encourage fun, fitness and friendship for all ages and abilities.
Maybe you’ve got a backyard bird feeder and would like to learn more. The National Audubon Society offers everything from a bird guide app to an online binocular guide to a database of native plants that are beneficial for birds. In Washington state there are more than two dozen chapters, where you’ll find opportunities for field trips and monthly bird walks.
Hike or bike
The Northwest is a hiking and biking utopia, and there are clubs and organizations that can help you get started. REI offers classes, day trips and events for all skill levels. The Cascade Bicycle Club can help you get started cycling. Cascade offers classes, tours and thousands of free group rides. You can also check out your local bike shop for information.
Blue said it doesn’t matter what kind of hobby or activity you choose, the most important thing is to find something you are passionate about or have a deep interest in.
“Find something you love because then you’ll stick with it,” she said.