It’s time to throw out what you think you know about senior life after they hit 70. Sure, they have to be careful about what they can do, but active seniors can do what they want… when they want. It’s the time of life to start long road trips, enjoy time in RVs, learn new skills, and visit areas of the world they’ve only imagined seeing–and those in their 70s have the time to make it all happen. Here’s what active aging really looks like:
Active seniors are seeing the world, and they’re doing it in style. The cruise is the classic way of traveling, as it’s low-impact and has plenty of facilities on board. However, it’s not the only way to travel. Plenty of seniors are independently traveling around the world, visiting exotic places such as Singapore and closer-to-home places such as Canada and Mexico. Sound like your parents’ cup of tea? Many companies offer senior travel insurance that specifically caters to those over 70.
Don, in his 70s, and Alison, in her 60s, have spent many years traveling the world, and they say that the key to traveling is to just do it and not worry about what others think. They even blog to record their travels. The couple only started traveling after they retired, and they’re living proof that an active life is a happy one. Italy, Bali, Australia, and Mexico are a few of the destinations they’ve traveled to in recent years.
Active aging doesn’t have to involve traveling abroad, either. If it’s warm weather they’re after, they’re not alone. Plenty of seniors head south in the winter to the sunny climes of Arizona or spend the cooler summer months in Montana, Maine, and Wyoming. Having an RV really helps, as they can travel an hour or two at a time, moving at the pace they want to go.
Children and Grandchildren
Traveling isn’t the only thing seniors over 70 can do. Those who have children and grandchildren can spend time with their favorite little ones, helping to guide them through life. It’s a two-way street as well: A little bit of care helps young kids to understand the role grandparents play in their lives, and a bit of time with the elders gives you built-in babysitter. Those seniors who need a little bit of help at home can enjoy home care while still maintaining an active family life. Around 60 percent of grandparents help out with child care, according to a University of Chicago study, and around 30 percent of mothers who work rely on grandparents to care for their grandchildren. Seniors over 70 can have a big role to play when raising children and helping out their children and grandchildren.
Naturally, an active life is something to be prized. While most seniors over 70 won’t be playing catch on the football field or throwing swings in the boxing ring (although some film stars and singers approaching that age still seem indestructible–we’re looking at you, Chuck Norris, 75, and you, Mick Jagger, 72), there are still plenty of hobbies to be enjoyed. Seniors can still enjoy music, performing, and being active. Look at some of the all-time greats such as Paul McCartney and Aretha Franklin. Both of these legendary stars are in their 70s, and they’re showing no sign of slowing down.
But interests don’t have to be limited to physical pursuits either. An active lifestyle can involve mental pursuits, such as learning a new subject. Broward College has presented associate degrees to students in their 80s, and 20 students in 2011 were over 70, making them seriously senior seniors. Better yet, they’re proof that it’s really never too late to start learning.
Perhaps it’s time for the senior you care about to give back to their community. Volunteering can help keep their skills and mind sharp, and it offers a great opportunity to help others. Volunteer work can involve everything from helping out at your local church to volunteering to keep the local community safe. One couple in Santa Maria, California, in their 70s currently volunteer with the local police department. Ron and Trudy Stevens go on patrol with the local police department several times each week, keeping their patch clear of unlicensed vehicles. They’re doing their part, and so can you or the senior you love.
Keeping Active at 70
Naturally, keeping active is a big part of being able to do a few of the things you love, and this means having a great diet. It’s best to increase the amount of fruit, vegetables, and lean meat in your diet and reduce red meats and dairy in general. In addition, you (or your elderly parent) should try the following:
- Include 20 to 30 minutes of light exercise per day–think walking, swimming, and gentle aerobics.
- Enjoy at least two portions of oily fish each week.
- Visit your primary care adviser before starting new hobbies or traveling.
- Enjoy your life to the fullest.
Growing old is a natural part of life, but you can maintain an active lifestyle. Being a senior means having more time for life and enjoying it, and millions of Americans are doing just that. Even if you, or your senior parent, need a little help at home, you can still keep an active lifestyle, seeing those you love and doing the things you love. Just remember that being a senior means you have experience at living and can enjoy plenty more life experiences to come.