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After a lifetime of hard work, there’s no need to overload your schedule during retirement. These years are for relaxing, enjoying your passions, and spending time with friends and family. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence supporting the notion that seniors who stay physically, mentally, and socially engaged are more likely to maintain their health and live longer. Senior living communities are great because the best ones offer a multitude of ways for seniors to stay engaged, including exercise classes, art courses, and social events. But even when you opt to stay in your apartment, there are many ways to keep busy in a senior living community.

1. Take an Online Course

If you have a tablet or computer and know how to use it, you can access thousands of available online courses. As a quick disclaimer, before venturing too far down the rabbit hole that is the web, be sure you know how to be safe on the internet and avoid scammers.

Online courses are a great way to keep your mind active and learn about anything from art history and psychology to economics and biology. Websites such as Coursera offer many free classes, a number of which are taught by elite professors. Locally, Rowan College at Burlington County offers a wide range of online courses.

2. Chat with Family, Friends, and Other Seniors

There are many ways to keep in touch with friends and family around the world. If you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can make video calls that will allow you to actually see your loved ones, and are the next best thing to being in the same room. This technology also makes it possible to hold virtual book club nights, knitting circles, or dinner dates. If you’re digitally savvy, applications including Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime are relatively easy to set up and free to use. If you need a bit of help, call up a friend or family member for assistance or search online for tips.

If you’re interested in talking with like-minded seniors, there’s also the option of joining online communities on social networks like Facebook or forums like Silversurfers.

3. Play Online Games

Games can be more than just a diversion. Many apps and online games were built to exercise your brain and improve memory and cognition. AARP has a large collection of games on its website, including mahjong, chess, solitaire, and word puzzles. Apps like Lumosity, Peak, and Elevate specifically aim to improve memory and focus, and all have free versions available.

4. Workout with an Online Fitness Class

Even just 20-30 minutes of physical activity a day can do wonders for longevity, but sometimes you need an extra boost to get motivated. Online fitness classes can help make working out more fun and engaging. Websites like Senior Planet, YouTube, and YMCA 360 are just a few of the options available for guided fitness classes.

5. Take Advantage of the Library’s Online Offerings

You no longer have to leave your home to enjoy the local library. Mount Laurel Library offers full texts for learning from home, along with a huge selection of audiobooks, e-books, streaming movies, TV shows, and concerts. The library is even offering bonus borrows through Hoopla. You can also explore online research databases and your family’s genealogy.

Download The Busy Person's Guide to Recreation in Retirement

6. Learn or Hone New Skills

This is a great time to delve into hobbies you may have left by the wayside. Knitting, crocheting, and cross-stitching are relaxing ways to be creative. Other options are bird-watching, painting, baking, writing, learning a language or instrument, and planting a garden. YouTube has millions of videos that can teach you anything you can imagine, from whittling wood to baking sourdough bread.

7. Have a Virtual Experience

Modern technology enables you to travel the world without leaving your armchair. Zoos, aquariums, and museums now allow you to explore virtually. Here is a long list of options. And Airbnb recently unveiled its Online Experiences feature, which allows you to enjoy activities and classes taught by people around the world, including everything from Balinese cooking classes to a panoramic tour of Paris.

8. Send Snail Mail to Loved Ones

You don’t need technology to stay in touch with friends and family. It can sometimes be more meaningful to receive a handwritten letter or card in the mail. Spend some time crafting a thoughtful letter or handmade card to send to loved ones located anywhere in the world.

For more ideas on how to stay active and engaged, check out “The Busy Person’s Guide to Recreation in Retirement.”

Download The Busy Person's Guide to Recreation in Retirement

Jackie Fix

About the Author: Jackie Fix

Jackie has been working in the field of senior living for more than 15 years. As an Executive Director for the past twelve years, Jackie has found her most important role is building a community network that provides opportunities and encourages residents to live their best lives. Ensuring the team feels engaged and equipped to provide outstanding service has led to memorable and meaningful experiences with residents, families, and friends throughout the years. Jackie is a Certified Assisted Living Administrator and a participating member of both the New Jersey Health Care Association and the Tri-County Ethics Committee. An empty-nester, Jackie also enjoys hiking, gardening, and visits with her grandchildren.