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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Google Hangouts is the Jetson phone plus plus. It can be used on a PC, laptop or phone; it just requires an email address or phone number. Up to 10 people can be on a call at once. Texting is available, and a user can switch to show their desktop, a document or play a video. For long-distance relationships, it’s a great way to schedule a time to get everyone together for a fun, interactive experience that’s the next best thing to meeting in person. ZuberFamZoom! was developed by grandparents for grandparents. It lets you play games, do puzzles, draw and doodle, read stories and help with homework in real time.


There are numerous video calling methods to bridge long distance. Skype is the most widely known. It can be used for voice, video and text within the United States; you can also connect with people in other countries. Voxer allows you to send pre-recorded messages. Spaxtel, Viber and PennyTalk are low-cost alternatives for making international calls.

No one needs to be told the younger generations are attached to their technology. It used to just be computers, but now it’s smart phones. These days, if you want to stay in contact with your grandchildren – and sometimes even your children – you’d be wise to learn a few basic methods of keeping in touch in the digital age. A study released in 2012 by Microsoft and AARP called “Connecting Generations” found teens and their parents and grandparents are communicating more because of social media and other online tools. If you’re not already riding the digital communication train, you might want to hop on board.


The secret is connectivity. It’s not a matter of the grandchildren not wanting to stay in touch or not having the time – it’s all about the method. The most foolproof tech- nique is to have a smart phone just as they do. If you don’t have a smart phone and don’t want one, you could use a PC, laptop or tablet.


Texting won’t be going away anytime soon, but it does evolve. Brush up on hip lingo by searching online for texting acronyms. When in doubt, do this first rather than guess what a random three-letter combination means. In addition to acronyms, pictures called emoticons are now very popular. Be sure to Google these as well. Don’t send an eggplant unless you know what it means.

TECHNOLOGY PRIMER FOR GRANDPARENTS

WhatsApp is the name of a messaging app download for PC, laptops and both Android and iPhones. It lets you send pictures and do live video calling, and you can lower your SMS rate plan because you won’t need as many texts. You can also keep in touch with loved ones abroad for no additional cost. Facetime is a similar messaging app, but it only works with iPhones, iPads and iPods. Rounds is similar to WhatsApp and Facetime but adds live webcam hangouts, games and activities such as chess, checkers and backgammon and drawing. Cool kids ages 12 and up dubbed Facebook “not cool” several years ago, yet many still use it. Facebook now offers live video messaging.


Instagram is a photo-sharing site. The photos are a form of communication and storytelling. Chances are at least one of your grandchildren has an Instagram. Following it can offer insights into their lives and thoughts. Twitter is like a marriage between Facebook and a blog but is limited to 140 characters a post. Your grandchildren probably have a twitter you should follow. They’d get a kick out of following your twitter account.



ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela S. Hoover is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by Angela S. Hoover