Blog Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

Older Americans Month: Aging Unbound

Written by Michele Dinman, MPH, project coordinator for the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at the Institute for Public Health

Happy Older Americans Month! For the past 60 years, the Administration for Community Living helps us celebrate and honor older Americans each May. This year’s theme, Aging Unbound, promotes the importance of enjoying independence and fulfillment by paving our own paths as we age. Here are a few ways to do this! 

Embrace opportunities to change by finding a new passion, going on an adventure, trying new and creative activities, and pushing boundaries by not letting age define your limits. Cyn Meyer, a retirement life coach who helps older people live an active and engaged lifestyle, explains several ways to find your passion and happiness including:

  • Opening yourself up to new experiences and trying new things
  • Expanding Your Social Circle which can reveal new experiences and perspectives
  • Spending time alone and taking the time to reflect on your life
  • Revisiting the activities that made you happy when you were a child
  • Looking to others for inspiration by studying their path of self-discovery 

As we grow older, we can stay adventurous by participating in activities that challenge us mentally and physically such as traveling, doing outdoor activities, or even learning something new that we wouldn’t have thought of pursuing when we were younger. Read these tips to help you stay adventurous as you age. If your idea of adventure is traveling around the country or even the world, then check out these five vacation ideas for people ages 50 and older, or, these older adult-friendly group tours and travel experiences!

Explore the rewards of growing older such as knowledge, which provides insight and confidence to understand and experience the world more deeply. We can continue learning by reading, listening, and taking classes. Most adults today are living longer and are staying in good physical and cognitive health long after retirement age. Learning new things by reading or taking classes can be fun and provide enrichment. It can even provide professional development and enhance skills needed to embark on a new path. Read about 20 benefits of lifelong learning!

Stay engaged in your community by volunteering, working, mentoring, or joining a social club to feel connected and involved. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CDC) explains why keeping socially engaged – participating in activities that keep you connected with people and your community – is good for your health and has a list of national organizations that can help.

Form relationships which can improve your quality of life and well-being by introducing new ideas and unique perspective and can allow deeper connections with family, friends, and people in your community.  Many people have a hard time making new friends as they get older, but research has shown that having friends is strongly correlated with happiness, good mental health, and longevity in older people. If you are having a hard time making friends as you age, read these 12 tips that can help, or read this article on how to make and keep friendships.  This month, find a new passion, take a class, or an adventure. Deepen your current friendships, meet some new people, make new friends, and discover new things about yourself. Become more involved in your community and challenge your mind. If you need some advice, read an octogenarian’s thoughts on how make the most of your life and keep your sense of adventure as you age! Celebrate being older!