As people get older, retire, and find new pursuits in life, senior centers attempt to find the hobbies and interests of older adults to increase participation and provide for increased social connections. Often, interests do not change, but the manner in which people participate changes if there are physical limitations. However, many older adults find new hobbies at retirement that spark a new energy in daily life. Many older adults can participate without modifications or minimal adjustments.
Research indicates that the top activities for older adults are mostly physical activities, like dancing, walking, swimming, yoga, gardening, hiking, or bicycling.1 The favorite activities are also often performed outdoors, like bird watching and nature photography.1 Additional activities listed as the top choices for older adults are arts and crafts, music, a variety of card and board games, book clubs, chess tournaments, journaling, and attending community festivals.1
There are many options to modify most activities. Gardeners can utilize raised beds and planters to keep from bending over or down. Swimming is a great activity if mobility is compromised. There are assistive devices to assist if range of motion or joint pain makes activity difficult. The Illinois Assistive Technology Program in Springfield, Illinois offers many options and ideas for assisting persons in participating in a variety of activities.
Pursuing interests as an older adult has many benefits, including increasing mental sharpness, decreasing loneliness, improving physical abilities, and improving relationships and emotional well-being.1 As an Area Agency on Aging, we would like to find out what older adults want to do in our communities and offer options at senior centers or other community locations. We will be holding public hearings next month in several of our counties to talk to older adults about the needs and interests of older adults in their community. The main focus is to provide the services needed for the most vulnerable older adults and caregivers, with focus on assisting older persons in maintaining independence as much as possible in the community. Another goal is to provide opportunities for older adults to find peers interested in similar activities. We continue to utilize a Senior Center Workgroup to adjust activities to update the offerings of the senior center. We will post the public hearing locations, dates, and times on our Facebook page, @egyptianaaa.org. Please attend a public hearing, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our office at 618-985-8311 with any recommendations.