After years of hustle and bustle, retirement can seem like an abrupt end to cherished routines and sense of purpose. Some seniors might struggle with how to fill their time now they no longer work or have as active a role in caring for their now-grown families. Fortunately, the secret to getting the most out of this new phase of life is the very thing you suddenly have in spade— time to pursue the things that make you happy. Here are several ways you can truly savor your golden years.

Volunteering

If you miss the routine of work and an active life outside your home, volunteering or working part time is a great way to give back to the community, learn something new, meet new people of all ages, and use the skills you spent decades cultivating. There’s plenty to do in a town like Rome. Animal lovers might enjoy working with Compassionate Paws or the Rome/Floyd Humane Society. Nature enthusiasts might enjoy the South Rome Community Gardens or Coosa River Basin Initiative. Civic or faith minded seniors might enjoy volunteering for the community election commission, for local candidates’ campaigns, or with organizations such as, Action Ministries. There are also many opportunities in the area to work with children, whether through tutoring, mentoring, or facilitating after school activities.

Rome senior bird watchingTry Something New

For those who welcome a break for the rat race, now is the opportunity to spend your time just the way you please. You can even revisit some activities you’d always wanted to try, but might not have had the time or energy for. Bird watching, golf, cycling, painting, yoga, dance, foreign languages, cooking, and more are all recreational possibilities. The wonderful thing about living at Riverwood is that we take care of the day-to-day chores so you can focus on what makes you happy!

Go Off Your Beaten Path

One of the wonderful things about aging is feeling confident in yourself, your likes, and dislikes. You know who you are and what you enjoy. But sometimes that can mean a lack of variety in your life. You might find yourself going to the same lunch spots, shops, and travel destinations over and over. While familiarity can be comforting, sometimes it is nice to indulge and enjoy the spice of life. So, branch out and do something unexpected. Look up new restaurants online or in the local paper. Check out art gallery openings or a film you might not usually see. Change up the route you take when you run errands. Eat foods you’ve never tried before. Discover a new musical artist. Studies show that individuals exposed to a variety of experiences can make people happier in the long run.

Revisit the Past

While trying new things and shaking up your routine can have a big impact on personal satisfaction, so can revisiting the past. A seminal study in 1963 showed that elderly patients who participated in reminiscence and reviewing their lives from the first memory on up to the present helped seniors create a sense of meaning and let go of painful aspects of their past. This let them live more fully and joyfully in the present, as well as connect with others throughout the storytelling process. It’s lovely to reminisce with friends and family, and to pass down stories to younger generations or revisit old memories with those who were there with you. However, it can also be deeply satisfying to keep a journal or scrapbook and keep track of your memories in that way, too.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be powerful for people of all ages, reducing anxiety and depression, and helping people live more fully in the moment. There are many ways to approach this kind of wellness, one of the simplest being meditation. You can try meditating on your own or with the help of audio CDs, smartphone apps, or classes at local yoga studios. Mindfulness can also look like observing your own habits and emotions without judgement, such as slowing down when you eat and actively contemplating the flavors, colors, and sensations that accompany a good meal. You might try going for a walk and practice being observant about what you see along the way. Studies show that mindfulness practices like these reduced stress in seniors and improved their quality of life.

It can be challenging sometimes to remain at home after retiring. Not only can maintaining a home become more physically challenging than it used to be, it can be hard to live alone, surrounded by memories of earlier years, working or childrearing. Many times, moving into a senior living facility helps seniors create new routines and pastimes that enrich his or her golden years. If you’re excited about the possibility of a new environment for a new phase of life, call 706-235-0807.

Written by: Meghan O’Dea