Staying connected with others means a more vibrant retirement for you
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
You have probably made plenty of financial plans on how you will retire. However, have you planned how you will stay engaged in the community once you are no longer going to work?
While working, your work friends provided an easy way to stay connected to others. When those relationships have been broken — or at least feel strained — do you know how you will remain involved?
Staying engaged during retirement is important for physical and mental health.
“It’s been proven that remaining engaged adds to the quality of your life and longevity,” said Ann Cunningham, executive director at Oasis Rochester. “During the shutdown, we switched to Zoom so people could see faces virtually, but now what we’ve opened back up to in-person learning, I see those face-to-face connections happening again. That’s been really key. People have really been missing seeing others.
“Just because someone retires doesn’t means it’s the time to sit on the couch and watch TV. We’ve spent a lifetime working and taking care of our children. That’s a great time to start thinking about yourself and continue caring for yourself. All those opportunities to continue learning and doing what you want to do are vitally important.”
Many schools offer free class audits.
Oasis offers many classes in a wide variety of interests. At RIT, Osher provides many opportunities for learning, too. John Bacon, 79, has taken classes at Osher since he retired from sales and marketing management for Cy Plastics in Honeoye in 2008.
Not one to sit around and watch television, except public broadcasting occasionally, he likes to learn more about history and science at Osher and read.
“Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books on present politics and political personalities,” Bacon said.
Joining an organization that holds regular meetings can help you get out and mingle whether it’s a civic group, spiritual body or hobby club. That has proven helpful for Bacon, who is a member at Penfield Presbyterian Church, which he has attended since moving to Penfield with his wife, Judy, in 1978.
You can enjoy the rewards of giving back to your community while becoming someone upon whom others depend. You can participate at a level that keeps you engaged without burning out.
Cunningham said that finding activities and volunteer opportunities can help retirees stay engaged on many levels. Oasis offers many ways to volunteer and build lasting relationships.
“Rochester’s rich in volunteerism,” Cunningham said. “It’s one of our strengths as a community. There are lots of volunteer opportunities at Oasis. At least half of our classes are led by volunteer instructors who are retirees.”
Some volunteer instructors have previously worked in the fields in which they now lead Oasis classes. For others, they instruct on their well-versed hobbies. For example, one English instructor who loves music enjoys leading a class on Frank Sinatra’s music.
“Giving back at a time when we all need so much is a great way to feel a sense of fulfillment and completion,” Cunningham said.
Bacon oversees property maintenance at Penfield Presbyterian and volunteers his construction skills for Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s a philosophy of giving back,” Bacon said. “Life has been good so this is my opportunity to give back. That has been my theme to live by since retiring. I love to work with my hands and build and that’s why I got into Habitat. I found that was an opportunity to do something I like to do. It’s a great program because it’s a hand up, not a handout. I’m not a big believer in throwing money at people. If they sit back, they expect more.”
Bacon also maintains his home and plows driveways in the winter. It used to be five driveways, but he has cut down to plowing only his own and that of an elderly neighbor.
“It keeps me active mentally and physically. It’s a good feeling to do things for others,” Bacon said.
Reconnect with family
Retirement allows you the time to bond more closely with your family. Plan outings, vacations and special events. Ask if you could help with a home renovation project, cook the holiday meal or regularly watch your grandchildren. Teach the youngsters your skills and share your stories. These are times your family will remember for life.
Whatever you do during retirement can make a big difference between aging well and simply aging. Plan to stay connected for a more vibrant retirement.