Interests and activities

Most people we spoke with talked about the importance of being involved in hobbies, interest groups and community activities. They said it was important for them to keep active and to take control of their own wellbeing, to find something that engaged them mentally and physically, that they enjoyed and that kept them ‘alive’.

Most people we spoke with talked about the importance of being involved in hobbies, interest groups and community activities. They said it was important for them to keep active and to take control of their own wellbeing, to find something that engaged them mentally and physically, that they enjoyed and that kept them ‘alive’. Lyn said that she and Robin have “more time now but our days are still full, and we’re very, very satisfied”. The activities that people were involved in were astounding in range and variety and included service organisations, social and sporting clubs, churches, senior citizens groups, day care centres, retirement village groups, community hall tea time sessions, senior festival, educational institutions such as University of the Third Age (U3A) and even talk back radio. The most commonly mentioned activities were walking (for physical fitness) and doing puzzles such as crosswords and sudoku (for mental fitness).

Lyn talks about having the time now to do all the things that she would have loved to do before she retired.

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Earl belongs to several groups, serves on a couple of committees and says that there is always something going on.

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Marie says that she has to be engaged and to keep her mind active.

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Jack goes to the community centre once a week for various activities but says it is more of a social outing.

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Being involved in various activities kept people in touch with local issues and provided them with social contact, support networks, outings and friendships, old and new. Some of these activities were formally organised.

Marjorie joined a club for the golf and then discovered that it was more than that and provided a very strong and robust support network.

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Nora lee says that friendship is the most important thing in the world. She also likes to pass on little bits of knowledge to children.

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Being involved in activities was not easy for everyone. Some said they “couldn’t face the idea”, or became less active after the death of a spouse, others preferred their own company. Some people were restricted by mobility, hearing and eyesight difficulties. Cost and transport were limitations for several people. These problems, if not overcome, could lead to loneliness (see Social isolation: Len).

Leonie points out that it is not always easy to join groups due to difficulties with transport and expenses.

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If someone can’t provide transport for Hans, he can’t go to functions, the doctor or shopping.

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Writing was a key activity for many people, especially writing memoires or family histories that would leave a legacy for future generations (see Future goals and aspirations): Katherine). A few people wrote creatively for therapeutic purposes (see Death and dying: Dorothy). Philanthropic activities, such as bequeathing scholarships, providing overseas aid, working with asylum seekers and food banks, visiting prisons and being a patron of various organisations were also activities aimed at helping other people and future generations.

Katherine gave up sport to focus on her writing.

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Creative writing gave Dorothy the opportunity to write about her son’s death, which lifted a burden off her back.

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Val and Austin are patrons to some organisations and regularly donate to charities. They now receive frequent requests for more donations and resent mailing lists being sold to other organisations.

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Tamara finds joy in sending parcels to Ukrainian orphans and thinks it positively affects her health.

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Finally, people said that interacting with children and younger people can aid the transfer of knowledge and help both generations to remain in touch with each other. They suggested things like going into schools, reading to children and adopting a granny.

Colleen took children to a nursing home and they put on a concert.

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