Body & Mind – III
I have now for several weeks been discussing the topic of independence. After introducing the concept and how it applies to seniors I then embarked on writing about physical independence, introducing ways older adults can not only remain active but also maintain a degree of physical independence. Afterward I started a three-week journey exploring ways seniors can challenge themselves mentally. Today I am closing out the series exploring the ideas of: mentoring, advocacy, joining a club and writing.
Be a Mentor
The most obvious might be mentoring a younger family member like a grandchild. Other ideas might be helping someone entering your profession. A third place to mentor someone could be at your church or local Boys and Girls Club. Inner city ministries are another place to mentor people in a variety of ways. Obviously, there is some overlap between mentoring and volunteering. Your focus can be as narrow or broad as you want it to be. Stretching your comfort zone is not always a bad idea.
Be an Advocate
I looked up advocacy groups on the internet. There is no shortage of opportunities. Be a child advocate, advocate for animal rights, gun control, patient advocacy, veteran’s rights, human rights and right to life. This is hardly an exhaustive list. What is the senior in your life passionate about? What issues are important to them? There are thousands of issues begging to be addressed. All anyone needs is passion and time.
Join a Club
Does your senior have a hobby or interest? Do they like to read? Play chess? Paint? There are clubs for these and more. Quilting bees, coin collectors. We all like to be around people with similar interests. Being in a club helps us to take an interest in others, invest in others, stimulate and be stimulated.
Once again there is no shortage of choices. Write a daily journal, putting down thoughts and feelings. These might be things you will want to share with your family. What was it like in the Great Depression, living on a farm, how did you know grandpa was the one? Of course, you don’t have to share anything, it can be very personal. You can write articles for neighborhood newspapers or religious tracts, letters to the editor addressing local issues. Write poetry or a book, self- publish, sell copies or hand out to friends and family. Everyone has a story, especially seniors.
Over the last three weeks I have suggested ten ways seniors can challenge themselves mentally. This is hardly an exhaustive list of ideas. If nothing else, it is a good starting point. Whatever challenge you decide on, remember to have fun. If you’re not having fun, move on to something else. Many of my suggestions involve groups and/or investing in others. Growth cannot take place in a vacuum. I really believe interacting, at any age, with others is a bonus. No one, especially seniors, should isolate. Interaction and activity go hand in hand.
I’ve been addressing the issue of independence, and, as you see, there is no magic pill. Independence at any age is work. It’s harder for seniors as they age, but it’s not impossible to remain physically and mentally active. My hope and prayer are these suggestions will lead you to take action and have fun, achieving a lifestyle you enjoy, retaining as much independence as possible.