Love Where You Live: Aging and Engaging in Place

When it comes to “aging in place”, the place we choose really matters. We tend to associate place with individual homes, but the community equally plays a part in supporting safety and quality of life. Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” One of the best ways to sink your teeth into life and build community as you age is to draw on the arts and culture of the city where you live. When thinking about retirement plans and looking for housing it is crucial to explore not just the type of long-term care options available but the access to cultural opportunities to be enriched, to play, and love where you live.

As we age and retire, it is important to build a new rhythm to our days and to make creativity and culture a part of that rhythm. Filling our days with the rich resources of our city and community can also help with the risk of isolation. When we are around others and engaging with the ideas and art of other people, there is a deep connectedness that we can foster in a particular time and place. If you are building your retirement plans or want to help an aging loved one engage in their community, here are a few ideas that can blossom into enriching local experiences:  

  • Farmers markets
  • Independent film theatres
  • Historical landmarks
  • Local theatre/ plays
  • Cuisine/ local restaurants
  • Local shops
  • Tour local artist studios
  • Craft fairs and art festivals
  • National, state, & local parks
  • Art and history museums  
  • Music (local symphonies, opera, singing groups, jazz clubs, traveling artists)
  • Libraries
  • Free public lectures or classes from local academic institutions
  • Charities and volunteer opportunities  
  • Political action groups around issues you are passionate about
  • Religious institutions and faith communities
  • Family including grandchildren and great grandchildren that may live close

Engaging Culture Together: Starting Your Own Group

One of the most important pieces of life is to find your tribe, to engage in a group of people that love what you love and really speak your language. As human beings, we need to feel accompanied in our journeys and know that someone is witnessing our life. As we age and lose friends and spouses it is crucial that we continue to build a tribe of people to enjoy life with, who ask good questions, and understand us.

One of the best ways to engage and enjoy cultural activities is to do them in groups. Our experience of something new is made better by including the perspectives and thoughts of others. Here are a few ideas for building a tribe around activities you love:

Films: Pick a theme for the year and watch a film once a month together. Meet at a local theatre or someone’s house for a meal, film, and discussion.

Books: Take your reading to the next level or try out a new genre by meeting with a group to read and discuss books, beautiful books! 

Art Museum: Make quarterly trips to the local museums in your area. Discuss favorite pieces and their impact.

Travel: Whether it is a “staycation” in your city, a destination in the states, or an international adventure, create a group that intentionally travels together.   

Outdoor Adventure: Enjoy the beauty of the place you live by boat, car, bike, or foot! Maybe you are a birder, a retired outdoorsman, a John Muir at heart, or just love the gift of being outside. Get a group together to visit nature preserves, walking trails, or mountain retreats.   

Walking: A walking routine is one of the best gifts that we can give ourselves. Doing it in groups gives the enjoyment, companionship, and accountability to make it a sustainable practice.   

Makers: Do you always need to keep your hands moving? Find other people who love to create. Meet monthly and have people bring their knitting, jewelry, quilts, clay, paints, scrapbooks, whatever they make and work on it together.

Food Tourism: Who has the best BBQ? Whose recipe beats mama’s cinnamon rolls? Gather a group of people together for a monthly meal that explores the good eating in your neighborhood.

Lovers of Learning: Gather a group of people who would like to take an online class together, learn a new language, or go to a seminar on an interesting topic. There are opportunities for free education online now more than ever. For example EdX.com or iTunes U provide free online classes from a variety of reputable educational institutions. 

Writing Group: Whether you journal daily, have an unfinished novel in a drawer, or are thinking of writing your memoir, a writing group can be a wonderful way to connect and work. Gather regularly and share writing prompts that can apply to any genre. Make a safe space for people to share or just enjoy the creation process together. 

Storytelling Group: Storytelling is such a powerful art and organizations like StoryCorps have really reminded us of the value of our stories and the telling of them. Gather once a month with a group of people to tell stories around a particular theme. You will be surprised what you learn simply because you ask. 

As we age, chronic illness and other circumstances can present challenges to engaging in life. If you are concerned that your aging loved one is isolated or giving up doing what they love, a Geriatric Care Manager may be just what they need. As a Registered Nurse or Masters of Social Work, they specialize in the holistic care of aging adults. While overseeing the care of a loved one they can also work with caregivers in the home to create a rhythm in the household and creatively address the needs for engagement and assistance in doing what they love. There is a big difference between care that keeps someone alive and care that brings someone to life. At Sound Options, quality of life is at the heart of everything we do. For more information about Care Management and In-Home Care services, visit us online at www.SoundOptions.com/Services or give us a call at 800.628.7649  

Published on July 2, 2014.