If you’re a human, then you probably don’t need some blowhard on the internet telling you about the joys of taking walks or picnicking in the park. If you’re a senior citizen using the internet, don’t color me impressed. Mick Jagger’s nearing 70 and he still struts around football stadiums in front of crowds of screaming women.
Being a senior citizen, or seasoned citizen, does not mean that you are dead. In fact, quite the opposite. Too often in our society the skills and talents of senior citizens are left untapped. Their wisdom and humor are left to mold and the energy and vibrancy of senior citizens is grossly underestimated. Perhaps its apathy on both sides of the equation. But somewhere along the line senior citizens get separated from the rest of society.
Enough of this. Senior citizens are simply too valuable to be isolated. Summer is the perfect time for reunification. I say that summer is the season for seasoned senior citizens (and I say that three times fast).
In order to generate this list of summer activities for senior citizens, I decides to interview two of them-my parents. This is what they told me:
1. Senior Citizen Summer Activities: Learn
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Doesn’t say anything about humans. Every one has something that has fascinated them their whole lives; whether its history, philosophy, religion, art, or science. Never stop learning. When you stop learning by choice, you’ve lost the right to call yourself human. The brain is strictly a ‘use it or lose it organ.’ According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association “frequent participation in cognitively stimulating activities is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Everyone has read Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, but how many have read Twain’s What is Man? Everyone knows about World War II. But how many have read Hegel or Nietzsche, or any of the Romanticist philosophers whose ideas influenced the radical thought of the 20th century? We all use the internet, but did you know it started in 1958? Or that they just invented perpetual flight, and it doesn’t use fossil fuels?
Let your mind race with new knowledge, new ideas, and new frontiers. As Henry L. Doherty said, “get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.”
2. Senior Citizen Summer Activities: Dancing
If you’re a human then you couldn’t possibly have spent enough time dancing. Life is just too busy. The joy of living can’t be contained by a chair. Dance it.
3. Senior Citizens Summer Activities: Charity
You helped make the world that exists. Now you have the chance to make the one you always wanted. Everywhere, there is a need for service. Find your passion. Maybe you’ll end hunger in your city, tutor students struggling to read, help care for the mentally ill, teach music in schools without funding, house the homeless. The possibilities are as infinite as human talent.
Your skills and expertise are needed. Find out where. Your wisdom and knowledge are key ingredients to the success of a project somewhere in your neighborhood. Show up, and show them off.
4. Senior Citizen Summer Activities: Try a New Activity
There has never been a better time to try a new activity than right now. Today. Never done yoga? You don’t know what you’re missing. How about Tai Chi? Only a billion people around the world do it every day. They even teach it to children in public schools in New York City as a method of dealing with stress.
Ever kayaked in the open ocean? Swam with whales as they migrate up the coast? Hiked up a mountain? Trained for a triathlon?
According to the National Institutes of Health, exercise can slow down or reverse the effects of aging. Not only does exercise help prevent cancers, heart failure, and cardiovascular disease; it helps improve brain function, and strengthens bone and muscle tissue.
5. Senior Citizen Summer Activities: Gamble Your Ambitions
Get a group of friends together and gamble. Gamble your ambitions. The first person starts by naming a goal they hope to accomplish before they die. It is usually best to start small. Then the next person has to up the ante by naming a loftier goal or ambition. This continues around the group until someone cannot name an ambition that could out-trump the previous bidder. The winner of the game is simply the person who’s most ambitious.
Wine and good music usually help get the game going. A typical game creates laughter, joy, and excitement. And you learn about each others hopes and desires. After you play a few rounds and have a few winners, the senior citizens can decide which ambition should become a group project.
National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health, “Use It Or Lose It?” Study Suggests Mentally Stimulating Activities May Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk