Aging with Grace Instead of In Place
Aging in place is not a good thing. I see so many people who retire and their entire day revolves around taking pills, making quick trips to Wal-Mart, and complaining about everyone else. For so many people, it seems that they have “given up,” or given in to the idea that retirement means to do absolutely nothing worthwhile simply because you can. Well, of course you can, by why would you?
Now, I am not talking about people who are chronically ill or recovering from surgery, or who suffer from a condition that they must endure daily. For those people, I pray for strength, healing, and joy in their lives. No, I am talking about able-bodied adults who retired from decent jobs, but who, for whatever reason, think sitting around the house all day is retirement. Really? Is that what you worked all those years to achieve? Couch butt? Knowing the names of everyone on “The View?” Well, not me!
This is a call to arms – and legs and minds and hearts – to find the things that always brought you joy, or that you always wanted to try, and make them a part of your “new normal” life.
Do you know your way around a workshop? Community Theaters often need people to help build sets, and high schools with drama programs have to beg to find volunteers. The beauty of this service is that it is short-lived, and you can just do it for shows as you have time for, or ones you always loved to watch growing up.
Speaking of Community Theater, imagine how excited your grandchild would be to know you are going to be in a local show of “The Wizard of Oz!” Maybe you would be playing Auntie Em, or the Tin Man! Or, maybe you’ll be a Detective in a mystery play, or even the bad guy! These are thrilling times to be a kid – and related to someone in a show! If you love to sing, act, dance, and have a great time, small-venue theater is for you. Local papers and the internet publish audition schedules all the time, so be on the lookout.
Your local church or synagogue would not say no to some helpers to fill the pews with cards for visitors, change a light bulb or two, or partner up with the Pastor/Rabbi to visit someone in the hospital. Teach Sunday School! Classes are usually laid-out for you in a pre-purchased lesson plan, so all you have to do is take a few hours during the week to get familiar with the lesson for the upcoming Sunday. People who say “I had kids – been there, done that – are really robbing the young couples and their children of the example of loving “elders” who want to continue serving God by keeping active with the younger generations. There’s nothing “cooler” than Mr. Baxter, the man who always sits alone on the back pew, getting up and showing the Senior High Class how to do the Jitterbug, or how to tie a real tie (many kids don’t know this anymore, and don’t have a man in the house to teach them!).
Get online. Don’t even think about skipping over the electronic technology that exists today. Like it or not, it’s here to stay, and to improve. If you don’t have an email account, get one. Take a course at a local Senior Center, or your local Community College, and learn basic computer skills. Who cares if you type slowly? You have plenty of time to learn and stack up those friend contacts in your email address book! Get a Facebook page, too, when you get a chance. You’ll find lots of old (and new) friends, and every day there will be something interesting on someone’s page – a song, a thought, a video, a picture – you never know! Plus, it keeps you young!
A three-minute brainstorming list of things to do besides sitting at home waiting for your next doctor’s appointment: walk in the local mall every morning before it opens, join a local book club, volunteer to help out at the animal shelter, sing in a choir or community group, learn (or relearn) to play an instrument, take a beginner class in something every 6 months, see all the Oscar-winning movies for the past year, check out the local Senior Citizens Center, go bowling, join a gym, get a tiny sliver of your hair dyed pink, adopt a pet – or be a foster pet caregiver, be a docent who gives tours at historic or tourist attractions near you. The list is only as endless as your imagination!