Working in the senior care industry, I often encounter older adults and retirees who are looking for ways to stay active and engaged, plus make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s equally important to encourage the idea of aging with zest and purpose along by exercising the mind, body, and soul. Fortunately, there are a variety ways to achieve these goals as we age.

As those of us who work in healthcare reflect back on our lives and begin to think about the journey ahead, that path evolves and will look different for everyone. For me, my experience working with older adults has reformed how I view retirement and getting older. As a result, I have made the promise to myself to stay engaged, live with purpose and zest, and maintain an active lifestyle after I retire because we know that a sedentary retirement is bad for your health. 

Less active, less fit people have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Lack of physical activity can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression and may even increase the risk of certain cancers. The obvious way to combat these health issues is to exercise and eat right. This might be an option for some. But another option is to combine activity and engagement, plus rekindling past dreams and passions that that may have been interrupted by a full-time career, raising a family, bills, and life’s many other distractions.

What I am referring to is turning that passion or hobby into an encore or second career. Many will reach that stage in life where you have retired and have begun to relax a bit and maybe checked off some items from your bucket list, but soon you may ask yourself, “now what?” In his book Prime Time: How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement And Transform America, Marc Freedman advocates the idea of “re-engagement of activity” instead of a “retirement of leisure.” This is when an encore career or second act can fill a void, rekindle an old passion, or even open a path to whole new one.

A second act or career can include civic engagement, volunteering, mentoring or working! Wait – isn’t that why you retired in the first place? Possibly, if you are referring to a lifelong career or former occupation. But when it comes to that encore period, it’s now about working for enjoyment to stay active and engaged, and making a little bit of money! I look forward to a second act that I can thoroughly enjoy and earn a paycheck that doesn’t have to feed a family of four, pay tuition or a mortgage. There are lots of possibilities. To be fair, for some starting an encore career may be a necessity for some to pay off debt or simply to live comfortably, but the other benefits of working still remain, especially if it’s something you enjoy.

What was your dream, hobby, or passion? Consider your options looking forward. Rekindle the possibilities. How about working part-time as a tutor, making and selling jewelry, giving piano lessons, writing, mentoring, or volunteering? The list could go on and on. What will your “re-engagement of activity” look like?

Matthew J. Gallardo, BASW, CCP, is the Messiah Lifeways Coach.