How participating in fun activities can keep you youthful – Caruth Haven Court

Participating in Activities You Enjoy—More Than Just Fun and Games

Courtesy Caruth Haven Court, North Dallas LIVING WELL Magazine

June feels great. She enjoys gardening, playing cards with friends on Tuesdays and Fridays at the senior center, and taking a water aerobics class at the county indoor pool. She turns 78 this year, but she feels like she’s still in her 30s.

Does June’s active lifestyle have anything to do with her good health and good function? Researchers would likely say “yes.” There are many things you can do to help yourself age well. Physical activity, exercise, and making healthy food choices are the cornerstones for most suggestions about healthy aging. Emerging research also indicates the possibility that engaging in social and productive activities you enjoy, like taking an art class or volunteering in your community or with your place of worship, may also help maintain your wellbeing. They might even live longer. In one study, older adults who reported participating in social activities (e.g., played games, belonged to social groups, traveled) or meaningful, productive activities (e.g., had paid or unpaid jobs, gardened) lived longer than people who did not. Researchers are exploring if participation in these kinds of activities can be the direct cause of positive health outcomes.

Melvin has not quite felt like himself since he retired. He worked at the same job for over 50 years and enjoyed his daily routine. Now, Melvin misses catching up with his customers and hearing about their families. He misses teaching new employees the ins and outs of the trade. He misses waking up feeling like he has a purpose. Melvin heard about a program at a library where retired people volunteer to help children with homework. He thinks that might be a good idea for him.

Research shows people who are sociable, generous, and goal-oriented may be happier and less depressed than other people. Sitting at home alone could help explain why Melvin is not feeling like himself. Volunteering might help Melvin feel better. According to researchers, older adults who participate in what they believe are meaningful activities, like volunteering in their communities, say they feel healthier and happier. For example, older adult volunteers from an urban community worked approximately 15 hours a week in their neighborhood public elementary schools, in a special program designed to improve children’s school success. Researchers learned the older volunteers increased their cognitive, social, and physical activity levels. Participants also reported feeling personal satisfaction from the experience. Although more research is needed, researchers think over the long term the participants may have decreased their risk for disability, dependency, and dementia in later life.

Linn was used to helping care for her grandchildren while her daughter was at work. Now the younger grandchildren are in high school. They just don’t need as much help. As a result, Linn finds she has a lot of extra time on her hands. She is thinking about joining her church’s young-at-heart social group. She hears they do many different volunteer activities, play bingo Sunday evenings, go to the movies together, have a knitting club, and even organize a power walk in the mall two mornings a week.

Linn’s church has an active program but, there are plenty of other options for places to volunteer or be socially active. Where you look to find these opportunities might depend on what you are interested in doing. The following are some examples of social and productive activities you might like:

  • Volunteering at a library, hospital, or other community health facility
  • Joining a senior center
  • Playing cards and other games with your friends
  • Going to the theater, a movie, or a sporting event
  • Traveling with a group of older adults, perhaps a retiree group
  • Visiting friends and family
  • Trying different restaurants
  • Gardening in your backyard or at a community park
  • Organizing a park clean-up through your local recreation center
  • Taking a cooking class
  • Singing in a choral group
  • Forming or joining a book club
  • Going dancing
  • Take an exercise class
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Joining a group interested in a hobby like knitting or wood carving
  • Getting a part-time job
  • Taking an art class

June, Melvin, and Linn are examples of people who are staying socially engaged in their communities. You may want to try too!

Caruth Haven Court is an exceptional assisted living community that encourages seniors through a daily lifestyle filled with fun activities and meaningful social programs in a friendly residential setting. For more information, visit or call toll-free: 1-888-695-1485.