We all know that eating healthy and exercising can help you live longer, but being socially active might also add years to your life. A 2016 study conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia found that joining a social group in retirement is associated with reduced risk of premature death.
“The sense of belonging that social group connections provide helps people sustain a meaningful and healthy life,” said lead researcher Niklas Steffens, according to Health.
There are lots of ways to stay socially connected in retirement, such as joining a retirement group like AARP or participating in a local book club. However, those aren’t your only options. Whether you want to travel the world or become a master cook, learn about the retirement clubs, groups and activities you can be a part of in your golden years.
Senior Corps is a volunteer organization specifically for those ages 55 and older. There are three different group volunteer opportunities within the organization that you can be involved with: Foster Grandparents, which allows you to serve as a role model and mentor to local youth; Senior Companions, which matches you with an older individual who needs assistance with daily tasks; and RSVP, which allows you the flexibility to serve in a variety of volunteer opportunities in your community. To get involved with Senior Corps, contact your CNCS State Office to learn more about volunteer opportunities for seniors near you.
Cost: $6,025 for a 17-day trip to Greece
ElderTreks is an adventure travel company that caters specifically to the 50-and-older crowd. The company organizes all-inclusive, small group trips by land and sea to destinations all over the world, including African safaris, hiking trips in the Himalayas and cultural journeys through South America. ElderTreks welcomes solo travelers, so it’s a great way to meet other adventurous retirees. Costs of the trips vary by destination.
Although the Peace Corps isn’t only open to seniors, it could be a rewarding way to meet other service-minded individuals. The majority of Peace Corps volunteers serve in a two-year program, although some “response volunteers” work on short-term assignments that last from three to 12 months. You can choose from a variety of volunteer group projects around the world that match your skill sets and interests, from teaching locals about sustainable agricultural practices to promoting healthy living. If you’re interested in joining the Peace Corps, you can browse the website for current volunteer openings and apply directly online.
Cost: “grandparent” adventures start at $699
Fulfill your passion for travel and lust for learning with a Road Scholar trip. This nonprofit geared toward baby boomers and older generations offers 5,500 learning adventures in 150 countries and all 50 states, in which travelers are matched with experts who can give them unique insights into the places they’re visiting. Road Scholar also offers “grandparent” trips that allow you to bring your grandchild with you on a learning adventure. If you want to travel but don’t quite have the budget to cover it, you might qualify for financial aid.
Cost: Free for seniors on Medicare
Looking to meet other active retirees? Join the SilverSneakers program to get free access to over 15,000 gym locations, as well as additional classes for all fitness levels at parks, recreation centers and clubs. SilverSneakers can help you find a fitness buddy to keep you motivated to stay on track with your exercise goals.
Thelma & Louise
Thelma & Louise is a women-only online travel club that allows members of all ages to connect to find travel partners and new friends to partake in local adventures. You can peruse the site to find women who are seeking to go on specific trips, or post a listing about a trip you want to go on. You can also specify the age range of your ideal travel partner, so you can be matched with a fellow senior if that’s your preference.
Senior Planet has locations in New York City; North Country, N.Y.; Montgomery, Md.; and San Antonio, Texas, where people ages 60 and older can partake in free classes, workshops, talks and events that focus on digital technology. If you want to learn more about the latest technology and meet other tech-savvy seniors, check your local Senior Planet site for information on upcoming events and courses.
The Culinary Institute of America Boot Camps
Cost: $2,250 for a five-day Basic Training Culinary Boot Camp
Sharpen your chef skills with one of the Culinary Institute of America’s boot camp courses. Classes are available in Texas, California and New York, and the boot camp series ranges from two to five days. During the five-day Basic Training Culinary Boot Camp, you’ll learn how to roast, grill, sauté, pan-fry, stir-fry, braise, poach and steam, and other basic cooking skills needed to be a pro at-home chef. The boot camps aren’t only open to seniors, but they’re a fun way to make use of your free time while meeting other cooking enthusiasts.
Interlochen Center for the Arts Adult Band Camp
Cost: $545 registration fee
Once a year, musically inclined adults from all over the world come together at the Interlochen Center for the Arts Adult Band Camp. During the five-day retreat, you can take master classes from instrumental faculty, participate in daily chamber sessions and play in an ensemble with the other participants. The tuition for the camp also includes a group dinner and nightly events that help you bond with fellow campers.
60 Plus: American Association of Senior Citizens
60 Plus is a nonprofit organization that advocates for issues that affect senior citizens. Members of all levels receive weekly political newsletter emails and exclusive savings, including up to 70 percent off travel and entertainment, and up to 30 percent off cable, internet and satellite services. You can also get discounts on dental, vision and hearing packages, roadside assistance and more. For those looking for a more social experience, consider becoming a gold member, which will score you invites to monthly member conference calls and an annual private briefing in Washington, D.C., with members of Congress, the president’s administration and other key policy leaders.
Cost: $20 new member fee, plus $45 in dues paid every six months
Even if you’re out of the working world, having strong communication skills can help you accomplish your personal goals throughout retirement. Joining Toastmasters International is a way to improve your public speaking skills while meeting new people in the process. Toastmasters has clubs throughout the U.S.
The Red Hat Society
Cost: $30 per year to be a supporting member; $49 per year to be a “queen” (chapter leader)
The Red Hat Society is a social group for women with local chapters throughout the U.S. Chapter events can include going out to lunch, shopping, seeing movies and theater shows, taking weekend trips and attending Red Hat Society conventions. Although the Red Hat Society welcomes women of all ages, only those 50 and older get the honor of wearing the namesake red hats.
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