October 10, 2012

Retirement & Boredom: It Shouldn't Happen


What follows is a guest post from Mariana Ashley, an expert in online educational opportunities. Becoming bored during what should be a satisfying retirement is something that doesn't need to happen. Mariana presents some viable options.

Curing Retirement Boredom Through Continuing Education


While retirement can be a beautiful experience for some, it can be an absolute miserable experience for others—especially those who aren't really sure what to do with their new free time and miss both their line of work and co-workers. But just because you're retired doesn't mean that you have to spend your days bored. There are plenty of fulfilling activities that can keep both your mind and your body active, not to mention you don't have to tap into your savings to enjoy them. That said, to discover some new ways that you can fill the void by becoming a lifelong learner continue reading below.

Return to School. By far one of the easiest ways to keep yourself entertained (as well as keep your brain fresh to fight the chances of developing dementia) is to become a student again. You can become a formal student and enroll in classes at your local community college and be taught by an instructor.
You can become a self-learner and check out one of the many free online courses available through MIT, Utah State, or Notre Dame just to name a few. A  Google search can lead you to others. This is the perfect time to finally master a foreign language, learn how to build a computer from scratch, or get more in-tune with economics so you can better manage your retirement finances.

Join/Create a Book Club. Another great way to keep yourself busy, as well as contribute to your mission of becoming a lifelong learner, is to join or create a book club. Selecting a new and interesting book each month and then discussing it over coffee or snacks with former co-workers, neighbors, or even family members (such as older grandchildren) is a great way to stay social and keep the mind sharp too. If you're having trouble finding a book club to join or struggling with finding members, you might want to check with your local library or bookstore—often times they host book clubs within their facilities once a month.

Work on Fitness. Since you're getting older, it may be wise to use your new free time to start learning more about your body and the various ways you can keep it strong to help reduce complications that are often associated with age. Do your own research and start reading health and nutrition magazines, join a fitness health club, hire a professional trainer, or start making an effort to get more exercise in your daily life whether that's via light jogging, biking, swimming, or even gardening.

Apply Your Skills. Lastly, if you have a set of useful skills and don't want to lose them or merely want to be able to share those skills with the world then you can also consider offering those skills pro-bono or through volunteerism. For example, if you were a former teacher you can tutor a struggling student. If you were in the building or construction industry, you can volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. If you worked in the food service industry you may be able to help prep food for the homeless. The list can theoretically go on and on.

[Bob says]  I'd add one additional option under her heading of returning to school: Life Long Learning courses. Locally, Arizona State University is affiliated with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Nationwide, more than 115 university-affiliated Osher Institutes, from Maine to Hawaii, work to provide a diverse repertoire of intellectually stimulating non-credit short courses, lectures, and workshops for mature adults seeking to expand and share their knowledge while meeting new friends and forming new social networks


Mariana Ashley is freelance education writer who specializes in online schools in Alabama. However, she loves to cover all education-related topics including news and trends as well as how education can help improve the lives of the older generation. She welcomes your feedback.


Note: after Mariana submitted this post I received a press release about the NoHo Senior Arts Colony, now leasing in North Hollywood. It is a senior living community that concentrates on the arts, with art classes for residents, and even has an on-site theater where the Road Theatre Company will be performing. To my knowledge this has never been done at a apartment community before, especially with this type of focus. This is just an example of another way to fight boredom and keep your brain active. I think it is a great idea. More info is available here.



29 comments:

  1. I love the concept of the NoHo Senior Arts Colony - I found them a while ago when I was dreaming of moving back to S. CA a lot sooner than we will!

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    1. The NoHo idea is a great one and would work in many communities. I would find an environment like that very stimulating. Artists tend to be fascinating characters...I know because I'm married to one!

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  2. I work at home and have a part time schedule so I use many of these tips in my daily life. I spend a good amount of time on exercising and learning new things.

    My husband is retiring next spring and swears he won't get bored! We do have plans though, such as taking the Master Gardener's class, which requires giving back volunteer time and taking some classes at the nearby Community college, which as a program for seniors where you can take any of the Community Learning classes for just $20 flat fee for all.

    There are many, many things out there to do that we never have time for when we work full time and I think retirement gives us a chance to explore all those things.

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    1. I have taken a few classes at a nearby community college and love the atmosphere of a college campus. The OLLI is another amazing resource that I should take advantage of: college level classes, for seniors, for $35 a class. That is hard to beat.

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  3. Speaking of keeping active, how is your guitar playing coming along?

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    1. I am struggling a bit with chord transitions. My teacher has suggested I go very slowly until the fingers go where they are supposed to and then speed up. Playing the melody is much easier for me.

      I have a lesson today to start learning finger picking.

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  4. Check, check, check and check!

    Actually, yesterday afternoon I found myself rattling around the house prior to leaving to go play tennis. The reason was solely my fault - I blew off a previously scheduled lecture on the History of Broadway, plus a photography class, because I didn't want to put down the book I was in the midst of reading, and so I paid the price later in the day.

    Lesson learned - It's never a good thing when I give in to my lazy self.

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    1. The day you are lazy is the day I stop wanting an RV; neither will happen.

      Being wrapped up in reading a good book is pure brain food and should be strongly encouraged.

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    2. I hear you - but I know myself well enough to know that for me that alone is not enough. I envy those for whom it is though, trust me!

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  5. I was just thinking how much I'd like to blow off today's activities and lie on the couch with my book.

    I have a cold, so that might actually be a good reason to lie on the couch!

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    1. Actually, that's just what I did today. Canceled golf (due to iffy weather forecast) and finished my historical fiction book about the Crusades. I love this retirement gig!

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  6. Good, useful advice. I've been looking for a book club, but it's hard to find a men's group. It seems only women join book clubs these days. I've been talking to B about starting a couples book club through the library . . . we'll see if there's any interest.

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    1. That's an excellent point, Tom. I'm not sure I have ever heard of a men's book club unless it is through church and connected to a Bible study. The potential problem with a mixed sex group is that usually men sit quietly while the women do the talking, or a man attempts to dominate and the women are silent. Even in our small groups at church it is unusual to get both men and women participating on an equal footing.

      Let us know how you do. The library is neutral ground, so maybe!

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    2. Tom, have you searched MeetUp for a group? I belong to two MeetUp book clubs that are co-ed, one of which is specifically for couples.

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    3. You guys are aamzing. What a source of information. I've never heard of Meetup book clubs, but I will certainly find out what I can.

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    4. There are over a dozen Meetup book clubs just in Scottsdale, and dozens more in Phoenix. Thanks, Tamara!

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  7. I recently learned about Coursera, a company that offers free online courses through many accredited Universities in the US and Canada. Coursera was developed last January by a couple of professors at Stanford and has a global enrollment of 1.6 million after only a few months of operations. It partners with universities to offer open online courses through video lectures, discussion groups and assignments to anyone who has a computer in any country. Courses are not for credit but cover a broad range of interests and are taught by regular faculty. It's worth checking out -- I plan to enroll for a January course.

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    1. Great information! I have not heard of Coursera but will check it out. Thanks, Jeanette.

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    2. I did check out Coursera last night.....what an amazing place....and free. Like you, I hope to be enrolled in something in January.

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  8. Lovely article and I agree with it ninety percent. The other ten percent of me thinks about the people I know in person who are too busy and who MUST fill every moment of their day. I suspect these are mainly early retirees who have the "we're freeeeeeeeee" bug. I wouldnt want to sit around every day, but Im happy to spend a full day on a book or just frittering...........I think they just havent learned balance yet.

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    1. Important point, Barb. Our culture has this "thing" against non-productive time, believing it to be a waste. But, our minds and bodies need down time and quiet time. One of the positives about RV travel that I discovered was the ease in which I could slip into an attitude of just being, without feeling I had to do anything.

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  9. Another wonderful education option is the Osher Life Long Learning Institute. I am part of the one at the University of Minnesota, but there are over 200 OLLI locations at University's across America. Just Google OLLI and the state you live in, there should be an OLLI close by!

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  10. I agree. I made note of the Osher program near the end of the post. Arizona State University is one of the participating schools. There are 6 sites around the Phoenix area where the classes can be taken.

    It is an amazing community resource for those 50+

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  11. Great ideas and helpful information to pursue them. My good friend's husband, who retired several years ago, is taking classes at a community college. The fact that he has a PhD doesn't dampen his enthusiasm for continued learning.

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    1. Between OLLI, Coursera, on-line courses through iTunes University, and everything that is available at community colleges, my problem is deciding what I want to take!

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  12. This post is awesome. If we really love our Grandparents and Parents, we will never let them suffer from aging and we will fill them with love and care. Let us have a happy Nursing Home community. But we will never just put them in there without our efforts, we should make them happy even if it is not in their original home, we will visit them regularly and show them surprises and activities. we should keep our respect to them and love them for we don't know until when they're beside us.

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  13. Learner Bob
    :- If you are looking to do something adventurous in your life and making a difference in the lives of many people on a continent half way around the world, teaching English in China should be an opportunity you investigate to the fullest.

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    1. I actually know a daughter of a friend who has done that and found it very rewarding.....and daunting. She has lots of stories about how the Chinese culture is very different from ours.

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