Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks! Tips for Starting a Later-in-Life Hobby

Most of us, when we were growing up, had hobbies. Some of us collected stamps or coins, others rode horses, and still others liked to draw or bake. But then we grew up and our world became filled with work and family responsibilities, and we had little time to do the things we once loved.

And that’s too bad, because hobbies are essentially a way for us to play as adult. We don’t pursue needlepoint to become famous or to make millions of dollars (if only!), we partake in hobbies for the pure pleasure they bring to us.

Happiness isn’t just nice to feel, happiness actually makes us healthier and live longer! A study found that older people who are happy have a 35% lower risk of dying over a five-year period than unhappy people. The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But I’m Too Old to Pick Up a Hobby

Rubbish.

Did you know that Winston Churchill didn’t start painting until he was in his middle years? He absolutely fell in love with it. In a small book called Painting as a Pastime, he wrote:

“… There is no subject on which I feel more humble or yet at the same time more natural. I do not presume to explain how to paint, but only how to get enjoyment.” [and then later in the book] “We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint-box…”

Whether it’s painting, ceramics, photography, Italian cooking, writing poetry, or scrapbooking – or something else entirely – pick something you’ve always wanted to do and just try it.

Getting Started

Okay, let’s set you out on your new journey of growth, discovery, and joy! Here are some steps you can take to get started.

1. Brainstorm – If you aren’t exactly sure what kind of hobby you would enjoy, spend some time making a list of things you have enjoyed in the past. Maybe you like music or you’ve always liked being outdoors.
2. Research – To narrow your list, do some research on things like cost and time needed for these hobbies. This is good to know before you dive in.
3. Don’t listen to others – Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you’re foolish for wanting to learn to Salsa dance or kayak “at your age.” These people are to be pitied, not listened to.
4. Be honest with yourself – Maybe you’ll love the hobby you choose and maybe you’ll want to try something else. The idea here is to play and explore yourself.

It is never to old to begin a new journey. I wish you an exciting one!

Making New “Glory Days”: How to Stop Obsessing About Youthful Successes

“Ahh, the good ol’ days.” How often have we heard or uttered this familiar phrase? It can be a source of great pleasure and amusement to reminisce on a time when we were younger, remembering a special event or activity. We tend to look at our past experiences through a filter that magnifies the positive while diminishing the negative. While there’s no harm in basking in a memory, it can be harmful if you spend so much time looking at your past, that you neglect your present and future.

If you’re someone who spends too much time thinking about the “glory days” of your youth, you might think it’s because your life has become dull and monotonous. With the carefree days of your youth behind you, you might long to be back in that time period to escape your present. But if you take a closer look and examine your life, you may be surprised to notice that you look back not because your past was so great, but rather because your present is not. The more time you spend reminiscing, the worse your current life becomes, neglected by daydreaming of the past instead of imagining new heights to which you can aspire.

Get Rid of Unneeded Memorabilia

Sometimes a memento is a special memory of a special time, and sometimes it’s just an object that’s imprisoning you in your past. Getting rid of an excess of items associated with the past will help you stop living in days gone by, and free you to live in and enjoy the present.

Fully Appreciate Each Day

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” One way to stop living in the past is to enjoy and appreciate each day. Start keeping a journal and jot down three things you’re grateful for each day. Take a walk, or cook a special meal. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of every day.

Make Future Plans

Nothing can keep you from looking to the past quite like looking to the future. Plan a vacation or create a goal you want to reach in the near and distant future. Maybe you want to learn a new language, start playing the piano, or read all the classic novels. There’s a lot of life waiting to be lived, so make the most of it.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a moment of nostalgia, it’s important to live in the present, and spend your time enjoying your life as you live it. If you make the effort to create a better life for yourself today and in the future, you’ll not only bring yourself great happiness and satisfaction, but you’ll create many more memories to relish in the days to come.

If you’re struggling and looking for support and guidance to create a better, more satisfying life, a licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

Making New “Glory Days”: How to Stop Obsessing About Youthful Successes

“Ahh, the good ol’ days.” How often have we heard or uttered this familiar phrase? It can be a source of great pleasure and amusement to reminisce on a time when we were younger, remembering a special event or activity. We tend to look at our past experiences through a filter that magnifies the positive while diminishing the negative. While there’s no harm in basking in a memory, it can be harmful if you spend so much time looking at your past, that you neglect your present and future.

If you’re someone who spends too much time thinking about the “glory days” of your youth, you might think it’s because your life has become dull and monotonous. With the carefree days of your youth behind you, you might long to be back in that time period to escape your present. But if you take a closer look and examine your life, you may be surprised to notice that you look back not because your past was so great, but rather because your present is not. The more time you spend reminiscing, the worse your current life becomes, neglected by daydreaming of the past instead of imagining new heights to which you can aspire.

Get Rid of Unneeded Memorabilia

Sometimes a memento is a special memory of a special time, and sometimes it’s just an object that’s imprisoning you in your past. Getting rid of an excess of items associated with the past will help you stop living in days gone by, and free you to live in and enjoy the present.

Fully Appreciate Each Day

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” One way to stop living in the past is to enjoy and appreciate each day. Start keeping a journal and jot down three things you’re grateful for each day. Take a walk, or cook a special meal. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of every day.

Make Future Plans

Nothing can keep you from looking to the past quite like looking to the future. Plan a vacation or create a goal you want to reach in the near and distant future. Maybe you want to learn a new language, start playing the piano, or read all the classic novels. There’s a lot of life waiting to be lived, so make the most of it.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a moment of nostalgia, it’s important to live in the present, and spend your time enjoying your life as you live it. If you make the effort to create a better life for yourself today and in the future, you’ll not only bring yourself great happiness and satisfaction, but you’ll create many more memories to relish in the days to come.

If you’re struggling and looking for support and guidance to create a better, more satisfying life, a licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

Starting Over: Dating After the Death of a Significant Other

Whether it’s expected or sudden, losing a partner is always a devastating heartbreak. The finality of the loss of the love of your life, and the idea that you will move forward in the world without them by your side, might be one of the most difficult challenges you will face.

If you’ve suffered the death of a significant other, have grieved and come up on the other side, you may be at a point where you want to find love again. You might have feelings of fear, anxiety, or even guilt, and you’re not sure how (or if) you should start dating again. Read on for some advice that can help you begin the process of starting over.

There’s No Timeline

In grief, there’s no handbook or checklist; how you mourn and move forward is completely personal. Whether it takes you 3 months or 3 years, your timeline is your own. When you begin to feel the sadness lift, and you find yourself yearning to share your life with someone again, it is probably time to begin the process of dating. Sharing every day with someone is a very intimate and special experience, and it’s healthy and natural for you to move forward with your life in a positive way.

Letting Go of Guilt

While it’s important to take the time to heal and recover from this devastating loss, it’s also important not to prolong the period of mourning. Your partner would not want you to live the rest of your days in sorrow. If you find yourself feeling guilty, know that your feelings are natural, but know also that you deserve to be happy.

Family Expectations

Your children and other family members who are also grieving the loss of your spouse may not be ready for you to date again. While it’s important to be sensitive to their grieving process, you must also remind them that it’s your decision to make. Keep in mind that their journey of grief is personal to them. As you remain sensitive to their process of mourning, remain true to yourself and move forward when you are ready.

Overall, when you begin dating again is an entirely personal choice. As someone who has suffered such an incredible loss, it can be a difficult decision; but it’s a decision that is only yours to make. Moving on with your life doesn’t erase the memories of the past, nor does it do a disservice to the spouse that you loved and lost. A new relationship will bring you joy and happiness, creating more loving memories you can add to your life.

 

Are you struggling to move on after the death of a significant other, and need support and guidance? A licensed therapist can help. Call my office any time, and let’s schedule a time to talk.

5 Tips for Making Friends in Midlife

For many people, middle age is the catalyst to take stock of life. The kids have flown the coop and there’s more time to reconsider your likes, dislikes, goal, and dreams.

Middle age is also the time we tend to look around at our social circles. Are our friendships still there? Have we lost friends due to illness, a move, or divorce? Do we want something different out of our friendships? As we age, we tend to have less tolerance or energy for fluff friendships. We want substance and real, genuine connections.

But making friends when you’re older is not always that easy. It was simple in school or during those early days in our first job – you saw the same people every single day. You were surrounded by friend candidates. But once you hit middle age, it becomes more difficult to meet new people.

The good news is, while challenging, it’s very possible to make new and lasting friendships. Here are some tips to help you make new friends in midlife:

1. Don’t Feel Embarrassed
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about being lonely or friendless. It is far more common than we are led to believe from the media. So, don’t feel bad, and get ready to put yourself out there.

2. Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people who share your values. As an added bonus, studies have shown that people who volunteer are healthier and live longer!

3. Take a Class
Do you have a passion for dance? Painting? Photography? Taking a class is a great way to learn more about something you already love, be engaged, keep your brain young, and meet people with similar interests and hobbies.

4. Reach Out to Acquaintances
How many times have you run into someone you “sort of know” at a work function or at your local Starbucks. Every time you have a conversation with this person you think, “Gee, I wish we were friends.”

The next time you see this person, ask if they’d like to have lunch. Get their contact information and follow up. You never know, it could be the start of something worthwhile.

5. Get into the Habit of Being Social
By midlife we’ve gotten into some pretty significant habits. Some good…some not so good. If you’ve never been a social butterfly – but instead someone who is used to staying home with the kids or simply staying in because it’s easier – putting yourself out there will probably feel weird. However, it’s important to try to be social daily. This could mean simply taking a walk around your city or neighborhood and saying hello to friendly faces or calling up an acquaintance for a chat.

Good relationships are important for our overall health and the quality of our lives. While it may seem intimidating to build new friendships in midlife, these can actually be some of the most lasting and profound connections we end up making.

 

Do you believe you lack social connections because of fear, grief, or a low self-esteem? If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch. I’d be more than happy to talk about how I may help.

Why Aging and Depression Often Go Hand-in-Hand

They
say that with age comes wisdom, and for some, that may be true. But with age also
comes some very big challenges. In addition to dealing with the onset of
disease and physical disabilities, older people must face loss: the loss of a spouse,
loss of friends, loss of siblings, and even the loss of memories.

“Getting old is not for sissies.” – Bette
Davis

When
you consider all of this loss, it’s not surprising that aging and depression
often go hand-in-hand. While feeling sadness over these losses is a normal part
of life, some people experience profound depression.

But,
if earlier in your life you never really experienced depression, how do you
know the difference between it and sadness? Here are some signs of depression:

·      
Trouble
sleeping (either falling asleep, staying asleep or both)

·      
A
change in appetite

·      
Sudden
mood swings (such as irritability and anger)

·      
Feelings
of hopelessness

·      
Social
isolation

·      
Suicidal
thoughts

At
some time in our lives, most of us have experienced one or two of these
symptoms. But when you experience more than one or two at a time, and these
feelings linger and deepen, that is a clear indicator of depression.

Beating Depression Will
Require Trust

When
someone who has faced so much loss becomes depressed, what can they do to feel
better? The answer to that question is to seek the help of a therapist who can
help you navigate your emotions, offer tools for mood management and even
prescribe medications if they feel it will help.

But
there lies the conundrum.

Those
suffering from depression often feel helpless, that is to say, they feel they
are beyond being helped. When a
person feels that no one and nothing can help them, they will not seek help and
refuse it when it is offered. In fact, some depressed people even become
angered when loved ones try to help.

This
is when trust becomes a vital component to getting well. Older people have
spent a lifetime forming relationships with family and friends. They know the
connection and love is genuine. Therefor they must trust that when a loved one comes to them and says, “I love you and
I’m concerned. I think you’re depressed and you need some help…” they recognize
they are coming from a loving place and trust they want what’s best for them.

If
you yourself have tried to help an older loved one but they refuse to listen,
consider having someone else they might trust even more speak with them. This
could be an old colleague, their doctor, or your local pastor. And sometimes
you may just have to get a group together and have an intervention.

If
you or a loved one is suffering from depression, you can feel better. You can
remember that life is worth living, even while feeling so much pain and sorrow.
If you would like to explore treatment options, please contact me. I would be
happy to speak with you about how I may help.

How to Help an Aging Parent with Depression

As our parents age, we want to treasure them for as long as we can, so we look for ways to help them stay healthy and active. But many older people suffer from depression, a condition that is not always easy to battle.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression affects more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans aged 65 or older. Some have experienced episodes of depression throughout their life, while others may experience the first onset later in life, even well into their 80s and 90s.

What Causes Depression in Older People?

As mentioned, preexisting depression often leads to episodes later in life, particularly if the person has never been officially diagnosed or treated. Individuals with a history of anxiety often become more fearful as they age as well. As a result, they often isolate themselves, rarely participating in social activities, which, in turn, leads to depression.

Some older people have difficulty reviewing their lives. They may not feel proud of the life they’ve led and may get stuck dwelling on the more negative aspects. Perhaps they feel they did not accomplish enough, or they harbor resentment toward an old friend.

And of course, older people have to not only deal with declining abilities but also the loss of loved ones. A unique reality of aging is that your friends start to die, one by one. It is not uncommon for older people to go to several funerals in a single year.

How You Can Help

The very best thing you can do for your parent who you think may be suffering from depression is to offer your love and support. Let them know that you are there for them and happy to help with whatever they may need.

Having said this, it is equally important that you respect their needs for independence. Don’t try to take control of their life and act as if you know what’s best.

Also, consider visiting a therapist who can help your parent work through any unresolved issues and offer management strategies. A professional mental health professional can assess your parent to see if they are a good candidate for medication. Sometimes medication can help, other times, it can impair cognitive function. A therapist will know the right approach to take.

If you or someone you know has been watching their aging parent become more and more depressed, please get in touch with me. Let’s discuss treatment options and see how I may be able to help.