Hobbies, Projects and Pastimes That Are Perfect for Seniors
We tend to be so preoccupied with the idea of introducing and even defining ourselves according to the sort of employment we’re in that it’s often only after retirement that we realise that no-one should ever consider their job description the main factor in their identity. What really defines us that which we choose freely, not as a necessary selection from a constrained pool of options but as a true choice based on the desire for satisfaction and enjoyment. Here are five popular activities which can fill our days, whether we consider them hobbies, projects or simply pastimes:
Few people who’ve never considered photography as a hobby are aware of just how involved and advanced the art of pointing a camera and opening the shutter can be. This is one of those hobbies which you can get into with pretty much no set-up; the digital camera on most phones will be good enough to take decent point-and-shoot photographs, which will improve the photographer’s ability to find and compose the shots they want. Third-party apps often can give the user control over shutter speed, focal length and white balance, and a proper camera can usually be picked up second-hand for less than £100, giving the user superior control over their shots. Photography can help to capture memories, but also to tell stories and communicate ideas and emotions. While the practice is constrained to an extent by the light, the range of tools and techniques available can give a photographer enormous freedom to create what they want.
2. Card and board games
There are a few popular single-player card games, but in general the practice is an innately social one. Playing card or board games gives us the perfect opportunity for easy, laid-back socialisation while also encouraging us to exercise and hone our skills. Complicated games aren’t just for experienced players, and I shall never forget losing three consecutive games of Go (an ancient and complicated Chinese game) to a man who claimed to be “mas de cien años” (over 100 years) of age. After dissolving my apparently very promising strategy with just five stones, this apparent expert gleefully admitted that he’d been learning for just two months.
This is one of the few forms of exercise to which the general public subscribe en masse. The reason this is such a good pastime for seniors is perhaps the reason it enjoys such broad popularity: in water, we are supported and suspended, our muscles and joints able to move freely rather than considering surface and gravity with every step or jarring against unyielding tarmac. In the water, we can put as much or as little effort into movement as we please, simply floating in absolute relaxation, or reaching and pulling more vigorously without the discomfort of heavily-loaded joints. Swimming is fantastic for those with arthritis, as it allows for joints to be gently worked (which is beneficial) with minimal discomfort. Swimming can also dramatically improve muscle tone and posture, even after a small number of regular sessions.
Yoga is another form of exercise which can be particularly relaxing by its design. A lot of people will defend the idea that yoga is less of a hobby and more a way of life, but such people tend to talk about being ‘grounded’ and ‘centred’ and should not be encouraged. Yoga is actually a lot more straightforward than it might appear, and somebody with no experience and only a passing interest may find themselves pleasantly surprised; yoga frees up joints and encourages muscles to relax and extend, brings relaxation and increased physical comfort and can improve breathing and posture.
Perhaps the reason why there are so many talented artists over 55 has to do with the idea that throughout our lives the ways in which we express ourselves tend to become increasingly refined and complicated. Finding our artistic ‘voice’ at any time is a wonderful experience, and coming to or rediscovering art later in life can be incredibly rewarding; a wealth of experience can provide inspiration and direction, and we are more likely to have the patience to learn. The creation of art is something which is unfamiliar to most people, but the capacity is universal. There’s a reason that artists often speak of finding art within themselves rather than acquiring it from the world. Each of us might find, in those first awakening moments, that we feel a little more complete.