HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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Many people think it’s better to talk for a period of time online or on the phone before meeting in real life, but the opposite is true. EHarmony suggests meeting as soon as possible to rule out secrets and lies. If there is a reason you cannot meet right away, you can FaceTime or Skype. Not meeting right away is one of the top signs a future relationship is unlikely.


Communicate about matters that are important to you. Don’t overlook the importance of discussing sexual health. Match.com says you should know both your status and your partner’s because not all sexually transmitted diseases show symptoms. By getting tested regularly, you can prevent the spread of disease. Respect and consent are critical to all aspects of your growing relationship.


Trust your instincts and look out for yourself. Zoosk suggests carrying pepper spray in case you find yourself in a situation where you feel threatened or attacked. A date can put tasteless, odorless and colorless drugs in your drink that may lead to sexual assault. If you ever suspect you have been drugged, report the situation and leave the date right away.


Dating can be fun and safe as long as you use common sense and follow basic strategies. Every date is one step closer to finding the right person for you.

Dating can be complicated at any age. It’s all about finding a partner you like AND trust and with whom you possibly want to create a future. There are traditional ways of meeting people such as through interest groups, churches and community organizations. There are also the newly popular Internet and online dating applications. With these, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to find your match.


When signing up on a website or downloading an app, do your research first and read reviews. One of the most important things to consider when meeting someone new is your safety. EHarmony encourages users to Google someone before meeting them in person. If you search Google images, you can verify that the photo is not used on more than one social media account and that only one person is using it. You can even take things a step further and order a background check as a protective measure.


AARP recommends keeping the conversation on the dating platform instead of moving to text messaging or e-mailing too quickly. Scammers will often tell you they don’t log on to the dating app frequently or their subscription is about to end. Don’t let anyone in to your private space at first sight.


If you meet someone on the Internet, be cautious. Safeguard all your information, including your online dating account itself by making

DATING SAFETY FOR SENIORS

sure your password is very strong and cannot be guessed easily. Match.com says you should never send money or share financial information because it can be impossible to reverse the transaction or find out where the money went.


When you set up a first date, meet in a public place where you will be surrounded by others, such as a coffeehouse, rather than taking a walk in a park that may be deserted in some areas. Arrive in your own car and make sure your phone has a full charge in case you need to call help. The first few times you go out, you may want to tell a trusted friend or family member who you are meeting and where you are going. A good idea is to propose a group date or having a couple you are friends with join you. An activity such as dancing, bowling or miniature golf can be more fun if there’s a larger group. There is, of course, safety in numbers.


Consistency is important, too. You want to be sure the person’s appearance and personality do not change from date to date. Until you’ve spent time getting to know someone, don’t rush to give out your address or too much personal information. This can put you at risk.

JAMIE LOBER

Jamie Lober is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

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