top ways to stay active and social

Not only does Ruth Egensteiner reside in Lohman Village, an independent living residence at Wartburg in Mt. Vernon, she also volunteers there. Five years ago, she formed a group that makes quilts for Lutheran World Relief. According to Egensteiner, the group creates and sends out about 80 quilts each year to be mattresses, room dividers, or door/window covers for people in need around the world. Lydia Ramhorst, another retiree, has recently taken over the group but Egensteiner remains involved: quilting, socializing with her friends, and helping people.

Volunteering is one of many ways retirees and older adults can be active and social. In fact, numerous studies have shown that staying active and mentally stimulated is essential to our well-being as we age.

Consider these suggestions on ways to stay active and connected:

Volunteer. Help out at a food bank, volunteer at your local library, hospital, or place of worship. Volunteer in your own senior community to keep connected. If you need more suggestions as to what organizations are seeking your help, refer to page 26 in this guide.

Get a college degree. Wartburg is partnering with Concordia College for Senior U, offering college classes (with financial aid for those who qualify) and enabling people 65 and over to work towards a 2- or 4-year college degree. (This program is now open to Mt. Vernon residents, but will be available to all Westchester residents starting Fall 2018.)

Go to your local library. Write your memoir, learn to oil paint, or go to a concert. Drop in to play mah jongg or explore your creative side in an adult coloring class. Make a friend while doing something you love.

Start a small business or get a part-time job. Are you a retired teacher? Tutor teens for the SAT. A former bookkeeper? Help out a local business part-time. A dog-lover? Start a dog-walking business. You can use your skills or learn new ones to engage with other people (or pets) and earn additional income.

Get a pet. Not only do pets provide companionship, comfort and unconditional love, pets require care – helping you stay active. Plus, you’ll get to meet your neighbors and other dog/pet-lovers.

Create an indoor garden. Not an animal person? Set up an edible herb garden in your windowsill, tend a bonsai plant, or create your own terrarium. As with pets, plants give us something to care for while helping reduce stress.
Exercise with a friend or join a gym. Take a yoga class or walk with a friend. Exercise not only helps with strength, balance, and heart health, it also helps our mental well-being and fosters social connections.

Start a book club. Meet monthly to chat about books and why not combine that with a potluck lunch with other literary-minded kindred spirits. Keep your mind active and put another worthwhile activity on your calendar.

Take a lifelong learning class. Always wanted to knit or learn French? Take a language or art class at your local recreation center. Drawing, knitting or photography are offered at Pelham Art Center where retirees can also take sketch comedy and improv classes. Check out page 23 for a list of other lifelong learning organizations.

Travel. Now that you’ve learned some French, book that trip to Canada or even France to use your new skills. Travel keeps you physically active and introduces you to new environments, which is healthy for your brain.

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