New hobbies really help late in life

Retirement can be a perfect time to learn something new. Look at former President George W. Bush, who began to paint after leaving office in 2009.

Bush told friends and family he found the art form relaxing. He hired a teacher to help him, telling her he wanted to discover his “inner Rembrandt.”

After painting a series of portraits of military personnel he’d met and wanted to honor, Bush published “Portraits of Courage,” a book of those works.

“I know each person I painted,” said the former president. “I was thinking about their backgrounds, their service, their injuries and their recovery.”

Linda, a 69-year-old widow, also chose something new after a major life change. Ten years ago she was deep in depression after the sudden death of her husband. She recently wrote to tell me, “I was blessed to find a wonderful group of people that helped put a smile on my face.”

Linda joined the Boots and Slippers Square Dance Club of Simi Valley.

“It gives me a reason to go out one night a week and puts me in the middle of happy, laughing, friendly people,” she said.

For more than 10 years, Jo has been the leader of Team Chardonnay in the annual Ladin Suburu Love Run—which is ironic as Jo does not drink Chardonnay and had not been a runner. She did, however, walk the 10K.

In 2013 her daughter encouraged her to run her first 10K at the Love Run, and Jo has never looked back.

In early 2015, as Jo was getting ready to retire, she took up running as a hobby. She began training with Conejo Roadrunners and to date has completed four half marathons and dozens of shorter races.

“ Once you run, you’re hooked,” Jo told me. “Running is so calming and a great stress reliever, and I get to visit my old friends, the oak trees.”

Irene’s husband died a year ago. In planning her first travel experience without him, she decided to join a group of people on a trip to Greece.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, keeping your mind active helps reduce the risk of dementia.

There are all sorts of hobbies available to those with a little time on their hands. You could take up watercolor painting or calligraphy or continue where you left off with knitting or woodworking.

Consider learning a musical instrument or enrolling in a continuing education program you previously didn’t have time for. Some colleges and universities offer discounts to retirees above a certain age.

Here is a list of some lesser known hobbies that might be of interest: coloring, bullet journaling, blogging, home brewing, podcasting, polymer clay sculpting, videography, upcycling, songwriting, geocaching and becoming a master on the barbecue.

Not only are hobbies fun, they can keep your brain engaged and give you something to look forward to.

It’s a proven fact that spending time doing the things we enjoy can help delay signs of aging, and the pleasure in participating can lead to positive feelings that can help fight against some illnesses.


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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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