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.


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.



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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2. Protect your skin. Take proper precautions when you’re out in the sun. UV rays are more intense between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so try to do outdoor activities early in the morning or in the late afternoon. If you are outside during those hours, seek shaded areas and wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a wide- brimmed hat. Apply an SPF 15 or SPF 30 sunscreen for long outdoor exposure and reapply every couple of hours.

3. Perform regular skin checks. The SCF recommends performing a self-examination once a month. See a dermatologist annually for a total-body exam. Performing routine checks allows for early detection of skin cancer, which means you can treat it faster. Be aware of any growth with multiple colors, increased size or an irregular border. If you notice any pain, itching or bleeding at a skin site, let your dermatologist know.

Sunless Tanning

You can still get a beautiful bronze glow without exposing your skin to damaging UV rays. Plenty of cosmetic products can give you beautiful results while keeping your body’s largest organ safe. Try cosmetic bronzers, such as bronzing powders, gels and spray bronzers. These products work like makeup, washing off right away when you clean your face. Apply them daily or whenever you want a little extra color.

Another option is to use sunless tanners, such as lotion or gels. These products actually stain the skin. They last longer, fading when skin cells die off.

Protecting your skin from UV rays is always important, but it’s even more important the older you get. Achieve the beautiful results you want while keeping your skin healthy. That way you’ll have more years to spend enjoying the outdoor activities you love.


As a senior, your skin has had more years in the sun and is becoming more susceptible to the dangers. How much damage is needed to trigger skin cancer, however, will differ from person to person, but studies show experiencing a bad burn in older age may be just the trigger skin cancer needs. Sunburns and suntans damage the skin’s DNA. The skin’s tissues break down, which may make it age sooner and produce genetic defects that may lead to skin cancer.

The many changes bodies undergo as we age will weaken defenses against skin disease. With aging comes a compromised immune system, thinner skin and a lower capacity for healing, all of which can contribute to faster skin aging and increased risk for skin cancer.

Protecting Sensitive Skin.

Although older skin may be more susceptible to sunburns, damage such as skin cancer is completely preventable. Here are a few precautions seniors can take to protect their skin from UV exposure:

1. Avoid tanning beds. More people actually develop skin cancer because of UV tanning than they develop lung cancer from smoking, according to the SCF.    


Michelle Chalkey Barichello is a Des Moines-based freelance writer specializing in health and lifestyle topics. She enjoys helping businesses communicate their messages through blogging and effective storytelling. Connect with Michelle on Facebook or check out her blog for helpful tips on the writing process and productivity.

more articles by michelle chalkey

Are you feeling self-conscious about having pale, winter-white skin? A little sun-kissed color on your complexion can make you feel more confident. But tanning can also be dangerous for older, more sensitive skin.

Whether you want to prepare for a vacation in the sun or you’re looking for a beautiful bronze glow, it’s important to take cautions when tanning. You can keep a youthful color without doing damage to your skin. Here’s what you need to know about tanning in your 60s and beyond.

Increased Risk of Skin Cancer in Older Adults.

If you’ve been tanning your whole life, you might not see a problem in continuing to tan into your senior years. After all, you’ve made it this far without visible damage to your skin or getting skin cancer, so why not keep tanning, right?

Wrong. If you haven’t seen the damage yet, a bad burn in your older years can be all it takes to trigger skin disease. Sun exposure over the course of your life continues to increase your risk for skin cancer and sun damage. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) (www.skincancer.org), just five sunburns over a lifetime more than doubles your chances of developing melanoma. Each tan or sunburn past that raises your risk even further.