Congratulations! You’ve made it to 65 years of age and you no longer have to work! So what do you do on your first day off after working for the past 40 plus years? I know, you’ll relax. That’s what you’ll do. Maybe you’ll turn on the TV and catch up on a few shows. Then tomorrow is today and so on and so forth. Pretty soon the days begin to blur. The only way you know that it has become a new day is the sun has risen again. That is one constant in your life. But wait, do I die now? What am I supposed to do with all this free time? What is my purpose? Will I be alone on this journey? The answer is no, you will not be alone. Everyday somebody is turning 65. Everyday somebody is saying goodbye to a job they showed up to for years. Through these writings we will explore different avenues to keep you enjoying life, adapting to change, and not making mistakes the people before us did.
We were all born with one body to use in our lifetime. Unfortunately your body will slow down over time. It’s part of the cycle of life. You do have some control on how quickly this will happen. Some things you can do to stay active would be to walk regularly. Working out or riding a bike can keep you fit. Schedule regular doctors visits to ensure everything is properly working. See an optometrist once a year so your glasses are the correct prescription. Watch what you eat. Your body could be carrying too much weight for its frame.
There are certain things that people tend to let go as they age. They stop showering daily since they don’t go into the public as much. They don’t brush their teeth as often. They stop grooming and allow hairs to grow in strange places. As ridiculous as this seems it’s true. If you feel this is starting to happen, ask yourself, “Would the version of me when I was younger desire this appearance?” Your hygiene is important. In social settings you’ll want people to respect you. You don’t people to feel apprehensive in helping you. Don’t think you can spray on some of your go to perfumes or colognes to mask body odors. One thing that tends to not be as strong as we age is our sense of smell. Over spraying can push people away from helping you. And that wonderful fragrance you’ve been using for years, well they go bad over time. Replace them once a year or two.
Right now it’s the year 2018. If you’ve recently turned 65 or are about to, people were wearing bell bottoms when you graduated high school. Kids would go outside to play and you were calling your best friend on the phone that was attached to the wall. Now when you step outside it’s rare to see kids playing. When you do see teens they’re looking down at their cell phones. They use their cell phones to do everything because it can essentially do everything. In a study by the University of Central Arkansas for the Journal of Computer Information Systems, it was reported that only 2.5% of seniors used their cell phones to send text messages. Don’t fear the technology, embrace it. Want to talk to your love ones but they aren’t picking up? Perhaps they’re busy so send them a text message. Want to drive somewhere but your reflexes aren’t as adept as they used to be? There are apps you can download such as Uber and Lyft and the driver comes to you. There are even supermarkets where you can purchase your food online so when you arrive at the parking lot, they bring it to your car and load it for you. Even movie theaters are changing their methods. You can buy your tickets online and even choose the seat. Undecided on a place to eat? Check out the rating of a restaurant on Yelp. Let the technology work for you. Chances are there is an app on your smartphone waiting for you to discover.
Maintain a comfortable standard of living. Don’t become a hoarder. An environment in which family members, guests and yourself can function properly will decrease your mental stress over time. As you’re cleaning ask yourself, “Have I used this in the past year?” If the answer is no then toss it. Yes family heirlooms and pictures will linger but the clutter can leave. Keep your environment healthy. In the movie Fight Club with Brad Pitt, his character states, “The things you own end up owning you.” (Fight Club 1999). Retirement should be about relaxation, not worrying about objects well being. Perhaps you’ve been saving all this time for your dream home. Some things to keep in mind are that your body will slow down. Unless you’re willing to brave it, two story homes aren’t the way to go. If you’re renovating your existing place, think about the materials you’ll use for your flooring. Avoid hard surfaces if possible and go with carpets. Over time the body’s joints feel the brunt on hard surfaces.
At this point in your life most of the people you talk to are co-workers, friends you’ve had for years, and family. What if most of your family lives far away? What if the you have very few friends? There are plenty of places to maintain a social life. Your local gym is a great place to go. A lot of older people go in the morning. You’re in a place where everyone is striving to better their health. Another is your local senior center. It’s a place specifically catered to the older generations needs. There are also apps on your smartphone in which you can face time family. This will give you the ability to see a person as you talk on the phone.
So now you’re retired and presumably on a fixed income. To enjoy your life you need to live within your means. Don’t spend money that you don’t have. Ensure that all your monthly bills are paid on time. If you have trouble remembering to pay on time, most utility and credit card companies have auto pay systems. You usually get to choose the day money is withdrawn from your bank. This way you’re never late. Another thing that comes with retirement are casinos. You’ve heard of these buses that pick you up and take you to have a chance to win it all. The thing with gambling is the odds are not in your favor. Another potential financial trap that’s out there lurking are scammers. They tend to target senior citizens by making them think they owe back taxes or other unpaid bills. Never give out personal information to third party vendors. Have a trusted friend or family member assists you. Speak with companies directly if possible.
Lastly you’re left with that all important question. What do I do with all this free time? This is the opportunity to explore your life long pursuits. Were you into art but never had the time? Now you can draw, paint, or sculpt your heart away. Did you ever go into a coffee shop and wonder where do these people find the time to just sit and read? You can be that person. There are book clubs for you to join. You can learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, or travel. If you’re daring and willing to explore new worlds from the friendly confines of your home, you can play online video games. There is an 82 year old woman by the name of Shirley Curry. She’s a grandmother and plays a game called Skyrim. She has her own Youtube channel with 390,000 followers. In The Cognitive Neuroscience of Video Games, it was reported that “Video-game users have superior eye-hand coordination than non-users.” (D. Bavelier and C. Green 7).Now that you’ve been given this instruction manual, it’s up to you to follow it. Everyone enters retirement with different hand of cards. Overtime your abilities will slow down but it is up to you at what rate if any rate at all. Most importantly, enjoy your life! There is so much uncharted territory for you to find!
Bavelier, Daphne, and C. Shawn Green. The Cognitive Neuroscience of Video Games. Digital Media: Transformations in Human Communication, 2004.
Downey, James P.,et al. Seniors and Technology: Results From a Field Study. University of Central Arkansas, 2011
Hirsch, Susan.,et al. The Relationship Between Expectations for Aging and Physical Activity Among Older Adults. University of California Los Angeles, 2005