Senior hobbies are nothing new, but the habit of picking up new hobbies simply never gets old. Do you remember how, as a child, you spent hours going over your stamp collection at night?
There, in the yellow light of the lamp, the room dimmed and hushed around you, you quietly relished the smell of the paper scrapbook, delighting in the curious little illustrations on each stamp: heroes, rare butterflies, great beasts from faraway places, and incredibly detailed scenes from battles fought long ago, complete with smoke, horses, and explosions.
You wondered how many letters had left one address and found their way to another with the same postage stamps.
There are times when childhood memories of building scale model battleships, collecting stamps and baseball cards – and cooking, even – come to the quiet moments of old age more poignantly than any others. Sometimes, they can even be recalled much more easily than those from the present day.
Psychologists say the reason is a nostalgia for simpler times and simple pleasures – when life was at once terrifying and unbelievably seductive in its tiny details and vast possibilities.
You may no longer be as enchanted by life as you are as a child now, but what is to stop you from taking up a new hobby and learning something novel and interesting? In fact, you have more reasons to learn new hobbies now than you did when you were younger, according to health professionals.
- 1 Senior Hobbies Offer a Healthy Way to Deal with the Pressures of Ageing
- 2 5 Hobbies That Give Seniors Reasons to Learn and Explore New Interests
- 2.1 1. Learn Your Genealogy and Family History.
- 2.2 2. Appreciate the Heavens Through Stargazing and Astronomy
- 2.3 3. Discover a New Miniature World in Building Scale Models
- 2.4 4. Engage Your Physical and Mental Faculties in Antique Collectibles
- 2.5 5. Explore the Beautiful Underwater World of Tropical Fishkeeping
- 2.6 Learning How to Learn
- 3 Why Keep Learning?
Senior Hobbies Offer a Healthy Way to Deal with the Pressures of Ageing
Sure, it won’t always be possible for you to fish all day in the hot sun or walk on the beach. But making time to learn new hobbies has proven to benefit our well-being as we age.
Hobbies offer a wide range of health benefits such as keeping the mind active, reducing blood pressure, and helping you manage stress. Matthew Zawadzki, an associate professor of health psychology at UC Merced, suggests that hobbies have been around since the dawn of humanity.
Zadawaski says hobbies are human nature’s way of permitting people to fight back against the pressures of survival. “You’re not ruminating and worrying about what’s happening,” Zawadski explains. “You’re invested in the moment, and so that restoration from the relaxation has big effects.”
Confirmation is found as far back as the small traces of human activity unearthed from the campsites of the Stone Age. Archeological studies indicate that, shortly after they settled in Europe 43,000 years ago, early humans began spending their free time creating music on flutes made from mammoth ivory and animal bones.
5 Hobbies That Give Seniors Reasons to Learn and Explore New Interests
Clearly, senior hobbies need not be limited to those that pop culture has chosen to embrace for seniors. Millions of retirees around the world have gained a profound sense of accomplishment in novel leisure pursuits and less popular senior hobbies.
That said, below are 5 senior hobbies that give retirees excellent reasons to learn and explore a new interest in their golden years.
1. Learn Your Genealogy and Family History.
Genealogy is a pastime that is even now gaining popularity among seniors. As a leisurely but engaging senior hobby, genealogy is the telling of one’s story in the language of genetics and history.
The storytelling involves research into one’s family history, an exploration of ancestral lines, and the documentation of past generations.
Many retirees have found this pursuit deeply fulfilling. Genealogy has allowed many of today’s older generations to uncover stories, discover old traditions, and trace familial associations that span generations of their bloodline.
Granted, piecing together family narratives, and combing through historical records, birth certificates, census data, and immigration records may sound intimidating. Yes, the endeavour does require more detailed attention than other senior hobbies. But studying one’s genealogy is always a satisfying and worthwhile diversion.
People who study their genealogy often create comprehensive family trees – which by itself is an altogether pleasurable activity that requires connecting with distant relatives, problem-solving, and innovative thinking.
2. Appreciate the Heavens Through Stargazing and Astronomy
One might say that stargazing is among the oldest senior hobbies of all. People began measuring the locations of stars relative to the Earth and the night sky thousands of years ago.
The Greek astronomer and mathematician, Aristarchus of Samos, is among the earliest stargazers on the historical record. Aristarchus appears to have persisted in his calling until his death. Historians suggest that he was likely to have been 72 years old when he passed.
As a modern senior hobby, stargazing is still very much what it was in the time of the ancient Greeks. But the modern version of charting the night sky requires some investments in technology Aristarchus could never have imagined possible.
Today, a good-quality telescope is fundamental for observing celestial objects. Look for a telescope with appropriate aperture and magnification capabilities suited to your interests, whether that be planetary observation, deep-sky objects, or both.
Often underrated in stargazing but highly useful, a pair of binoculars would be excellent for retirees who are interested in trying stargazing as a senior hobby. A pair of binoculars provides you with a wide-field view of the night sky.
Knowing what it is you are observing is key to a full enjoyment of stargazing. Star charts or astronomy apps will help you identify constellations, stars, planets, and other celestial bodies.
Learning about constellations, stars, and planets can keep the mind active and fully engaged – all of which serve to entertain, dazzle, and motivate you to explore an ever-expanding cosmos.
3. Discover a New Miniature World in Building Scale Models
Scale model building involves crafting smaller replicas of objects or structures. Some of the earliest scale models date back to ancient Egypt. Craftsmen of the time created scale models of boats, houses, and other objects for ceremonial use during burials.
Modern scale model building has its roots in the 19th century when naval commanders ordered the crafting of miniature model ships for purposes of military planning. The popularity of scale model building as a mass-appeal senior hobby surged in the early to mid-20th century with the widescale production of modelling kits and materials.
Usually manufactured in plastic or balsa wood, modern scale models can be amazingly thorough and realistic in their replication of aeroplanes, ships, buildings, and vehicles.
The appeal of this leisurely activity lies in precision, minute attention to detail, and the chance to build miniature replicas of structures or engineering of historical or personal interest.
As far as engaging senior hobbies go, scale models that depict classic cars, trains, aeroplanes, and ships tend to be quite popular among retirees. This might be explained by the satisfaction of a nostalgic and mentally stimulating interest in the icons of their youth.
4. Engage Your Physical and Mental Faculties in Antique Collectibles
Many seniors have made engaging senior hobbies of various antique collectibles. This senior hobby entails the acquisition of items from the past, including stamps, coins, tools, or small historical artifacts.
Unlike the collection of antiques for profit, accumulating a satisfying set of antique collectibles as a senior hobby need not involve significant investments.
You can build a set of antique collectibles consisting of items that are affordable and do not need ample space. Typical vintage postcards from the early to mid-1900s will usually cost between $1 to $5 per piece.
Your collection of authentic vintage postcards will not require much in terms of space, either. An entire collection will fit inside a desk drawer no larger than that which would accommodate a photo album.
Collecting coins, small ceramics, vinyl records, small vintage toys, and vintage advertising memorabilia makes for inexpensive senior hobbies.
If you are willing to spend a little more on your retirement hobby, you can collect first-edition antique books. Those with unique covers or the first-edition copies of popular works are wonderful collectibles and they do not have to break the bank.
The focus is on the historical significance of the periods from whence the pieces came. There is also the long, interesting process of collecting them, the appreciation of craftsmanship, and sometimes in restoring and preserving the pieces.
5. Explore the Beautiful Underwater World of Tropical Fishkeeping
Of all the senior hobbies you might enjoy, tropical fishkeeping for pleasure and learning is probably the most relaxing. Tropical fishkeeping involves the creation of a controlled environment within an aquarium in which your collection of fish will thrive.
Enthusiasts meticulously set up tanks and manage water conditions, temperature, and filtration of their aquariums. They decorate the environment within it with decorations to mimic the natural habitats of the exotic fish.
Like all the best senior hobbies, tropical fishkeeping is likely to spark your curiosity. Observing the fish can be a relaxing, satisfying endeavour. But most tropical fish enthusiasts invest additional time researching their tiny, colourful wards.
You will also need to make a small investment in equipment. You will need a fish tank of a size based on the number and type of fish you plan to keep. Choose a filter appropriate for the tank size to maintain water quality by removing debris and waste.
You will also need a heater to maintain specific water temperatures, gravel or sand for the tank bottom, decorations, and peripherals like a water test kit, fish food, lighting, and an aquarium net.
You can purchase all the equipment online. You can buy your fish from the nearest pet shop or aquarium store. Maintenance involves regular cleaning, feeding schedules, and monitoring of the overall health and behaviour of the fish.
Learning How to Learn
While none of the senior hobbies we have outlined require extensive training, retirees who want to learn more about their chosen diversions have recourse to a wide array of learning opportunities.
Many community centres offer classes and workshops for senior hobbies. Some offer classes on a wide range of senior hobbies, including painting, pottery, woodworking, dancing, or even technology-related skills.
Online platforms offer tutorials on almost every senior hobby imaginable, of course. You can also browse for books online and find literature on practically the entire range of leisure activities that may pique the interest of a restless retiree, from gardening and home maintenance to electronics and computers.
Why Keep Learning?
Senior hobbies are multi-purpose – and often necessary – endeavours. Like all hobbies across all age groups, they are not only endeavours to fill our time, but they can often also provide sanctuary from whatever anxieties may plague people, young and old.
Research shows a link between senior hobbies and higher levels of psychological and physical health in older people.
The most recent – and perhaps most obvious – example of such an instance emerged when hobbies became a sanctuary from the distresses of pandemic life.
During the dark, early days of COVID-19 worried retirees sought refuge, exercise, social interaction, and precious moments of peace by making senior hobbies of everything from cooking to collecting matchbooks.
“We often do leisure with people,” Zawadzki said, “and so it’s a way to connect socially with others around things that we both like. And you wind up not just doing an activity but sharing yourself, too.”
Obviously, we live in vastly different times than those of our childhood. The way we spend our leisure hours has changed. We have changed.
But so long as we feel the urge to create, to engage in things we find interesting, to apply ourselves to a purpose bigger than ourselves, to keep active, and to escape the little miseries of day-to-day life, hobbies will remain an essential activity for older people who want something in life other than retirement.
What do you think?