99 Ways to Grow Older With Gusto!

Don’t sit around feeling bored or useless. These prompts are just a beginning. You will come up with even more than these 99 suggestions. Some of these ideas you might feel too tired or old to try, but there is something here for nearly everyone. Don’t ever say “I’m bored!” Pick one of these to start with, then do it with GUSTO!  

  1. Write a memoir of some aspect of your life. Take a memoir-writing course online. A memoir is not an autobiography, but one small segment of your life. Perhaps you learned something valuable that others would like to know about.
  2. Write a family history. You can add photos and stories you’ve heard over the years. Have a few copies printed so you can give them to your children, or grandchildren, or anyone who has always wondered about your life. Most of us have done something interesting that we’ve seldom shared with anyone else.
  3. Meditate daily. This is a wonderful stress reliever and will change any aspect of your life for the better.
  4. Sign up for an online course on something you’ve always wanted to learn about. There are many courses out there that are available for a low price. Some colleges offer courses for the retired population in the community. Check it out.
  5. Have great sex, even if it’s just with yourself. This will prove more valuable than you would ever imagine. There is no age limit on sexual enjoyment. I’ve told many clients that sometimes a “soft on” is sexier than a “hard on.”
  6. Get a pedicure (even the men). You have no idea how good your feet will feel afterward. As we get older, it’s harder to bend down and tend to our feet, but you’ll feel like a new person when you let someone else tend to your feet.
  7. Do something creative that you haven’t tried before. If you’ve never tried to draw or paint, for example, get some cheap watercolors and start. Or get a piece of charcoal and go sit outside somewhere to draw whatever is around you. Check with an art store to see what you could start with that isn’t expensive.
  8. Take a course in conversational French or Spanish – or whatever language you want to learn. There are several online courses available for learning almost any language other than your own. It’s fun and if you ever travel, at least you’ll be able to say something kind. I used to learn the word “beautiful” in all different languages, and it came in handy when traveling.
  9. Make your physician your best friend. I don’t mean to hound them about every little quirk or itch, or to take them to dinner (unless you do know them well). I mean that you learn to trust them, let them get to know the real you as more than just another patient on their table. Admire pictures of their family, talk about what you did in your non-retirement life, and make sure you are comfortable enough to tell them exactly what you need or where you hurt. How else will they know?
  10. Celebrate every small achievement with a gift to yourself.
  11. Take yourself out to dinner. Yes, go alone. Take a book if you are too self-conscious, but I highly recommend looking around and enjoying yourself. It doesn’t take two people to have a good time.
  12. Get into people-watching. There’s nothing funnier or more interesting than other people. One time, my brother and I as adults, sat in a mall with non-colored kaleidoscopes and watched people go by. You’ll never see people the same way again.
  13. Make a point of being around people who elevate your mood. Being with negative people is the biggest downer I can think of, and be that positive person for others. Growing older is not a time for negativity in our lives.
  14. Make friends with yourself. Be your own best friend. Treat yourself the way you would treat another person.
  15. Join a health center/gym and go at least three times a week. Insurance sometimes will pay for a gym if you are retired. If you can’t afford a gym, use whatever you can find around the house to lift weights (canned veggies or water jugs), walk as much as possible, stretch, watch an exercise program on TV.
  16. Walk around your neighborhood and meet new people. Are you a dog-walker? Then stop and talk to other dog-walkers. Just need to get in extra steps each day? Then use this as an opportunity to add to your step count. Stop and comment on someone’s beautiful yard and get ideas.
  17. Turn every negative thought into a positive action. This can easily be done if your mind is already looking for the positives in life rather than the negatives.
  18. Stay independent as long as possible but take necessary precautions. If you have some issues, be sure to keep your cell phone with you at all times with numbers of family or friends handy.
  19. Write that novel you’ve been thinking about forever. The big publisher might not take it, but most books are self-published today anyway. And who cares if you publish it or not. It takes care of that itch you’ve had to write a book.
  20. Sign up for a yoga class. It’s guaranteed to keep you flexible. It’s also a good way to meditate when you are home.
  21. Sign up for a dance class. There are groups for whatever kind of dancing you’re into – square dancing, ballroom dancing, salsa, ballet, and much more. You don’t necessarily need a partner. Many classes provide that for you.
  22. Create a small garden spot for meditating, then sit there at least once a day, or more. Make a special time of day to sit and reflect. Meditation means much more than contemplating your navel.
  23. Offer to pet-sit for friends leaving on vacation. Pets don’t usually require a lot of care, just a little loving when their “parents” are away.
  24. Offer to house-sit for friends leaving on vacation. This is a great way to get a cheap vacation for yourself. It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do for your attitude, even if it’s in the same town.
  25. Learn Tai Chi and practice it daily. Use a chair if you need to. Get a video and learn along with the instructor. It’s not hard on your body and can be a peaceful way of meditating.
  26. Learn Qi Gong and use a chair if you need to. Some movements are specifically designed for those of us with limited mobility.
  27. Learn to play bridge or chess if you don’t already know how, or some other game you’ve always wanted to learn. Shuffleboard is always fun. See if you can find a place to enjoy the activity near you.
  28. Pick up a guitar or ukulele and teach yourself to play simple chords. You can find books and YouTube videos to help you learn.
  29. Sing along with your guitar or ukulele-playing. Teach songs to your grandchildren, or just sing along with your own playing. Get your voice back in shape, if it’s been a long time since you last did some singing.
  30. Buy a keyboard and take piano lessons or teach yourself. Perhaps you already have a piano in your home and only your kids ever learned to play it. Get a book and teach yourself or find someone to help you get started. If you used to play but stopped for some reason, get back into playing, even if your fingers hurt from arthritis.
  31. Stay stylish and don’t resort to old jeans and sweatshirts. “Old” doesn’t need to mean “ugly.” It’s too easy to think we don’t need to dress up for ourselves. It can give you a lift just to get dressed up and go to a matinee movie.
  32. If you are a female, learn makeup for older women without feeling like a clown. Have someone show you the newest way to take care of your skin and use makeup carefully.
  33. Study your genealogy. You might be surprised by what you find out about your family background. It’s become quite an interesting field.
  34. Join a book club. Read the latest fiction and non-fiction. Discussing what you read helps to keep your mind sharp.
  35. Join an online book club if there isn’t one handy. Use Google for “online book clubs” and you’ll find exactly what you want.
  36. Write a book and self-publish it. You know there’s been a book lurking in your mind forever, so just start writing it out. Even 100 words each day can end up being a short book at the end of a year. Use your computer, a special notebook and pen, or even your cell phone to write anywhere.
  37. Learn how to use a computer if you don’t already know. Don’t use your age to avoid it. Computers have been around a long time, so there is no reason to say it’s beyond your ability or use age as an excuse. Look up Grace Hopper if you don’t believe me!
  38. Make active aging your goal. This is a worldwide concept. Look it up!
  39. Learn how to make a signature dish and share it with someone. Offer it to a new neighbor. Whenever someone asks you to bring a dish to a gathering, they’ll say “Be sure to bring your fill in the blank.”
  40. Have a potluck at your home with friends. That way you only need to prepare one dish while the meal is filled out by other people.
  41. Create a weekly potluck with other single people. Want a way to meet other people in a “safe” environment? Ask each single friend to bring another single friend.
  42. Start drawing or painting. Keep your art stuff in the car for those random vistas you want to remember. YouTube has more than you’ll ever want to know about how to draw with charcoal or pastels, paint with oils or watercolors, and more.
  43. Learn a spiritual discipline and stick with it. Perhaps you already go to church, but do you take that feeling home with you for the rest of the week? If you are not already involved in some spiritual discipline, find one that intrigues you and learn more about it.
  44. Learn something about the natural world around you. You don’t need to go climbing mountains or cross deserts to discover nature. Look in any square yard of your property and you’ll discover all kinds of things you didn’t know.
  45. Sing, even if you can’t, and sing everywhere. Singing loosens up the cobwebs in your vocal cords. Join a local chorus or church choir. You’ll find immeasurable joy.
  46. Attend concerts. Some are free, some ask for a donation, and some charge for a ticket. Grab a friend or go alone. Check your local paper for events.
  47. Join a local band. Did you play an instrument in high school or college? Dig it out and start tooting. Almost every community seems to have created a local band.
  48. Attend plays or theatre. I doubt if there’s a small town anywhere that doesn’t have a local group putting on plays for the community. Make it a special occasion with dinner out before or after the production.
  49. Create a space in your home for meditation. Find an extra corner or empty closet where you can be quiet and alone. Include a vase or piece of art that inspires you and focus on that, and perhaps some incense that doesn’t bother your nose.
  50. Continue to grow and bloom, no matter your age. You will come up with ideas that I’ve forgotten about but incorporate into your life whatever it is that makes you feel joyful and at peace with the world. Stretch yourself and expand.
  51. Start a blog. Blogging has not gone out of style, and it can be about anything. Young families might have questions about issues their children are going through. Other people might enjoy reading about your travels. Write some of your family recipes into a blog. Be creative.
  52. Go on a cruise all by yourself or with a close friend. If you travel alone, you’ll gather traveling companions along the way. Use caution, of course, because not everyone is trustworthy, but most travelers are open to friendships.
  53. Get an older cat from an animal shelter that needs a home. Kittens are too rambunctious and can be destructive. Getting an older cat means having a pet as old as you are and who understands your needs.
  54. Get an older, trained dog and go for a walk together. Sometimes trying to train a puppy is too exhausting and not quite ready to be a trusted companion.
  55. Take up a needlecraft that’s new or one that you’ve forgotten. Some might be difficult if you have severe arthritis in your fingers, but some are large enough to accommodate our needs. Crocheting and knitting have patterns for large hooks and needles. These can be relaxing for both men and women and often provide you with gifts to give for special occasions.
  56. Do something for yourself that you’ve always wanted to do. Dream big and start saving or dig into that money your kids don’t really need. A world cruise? A trip to Disneyland? An African Safari? Coffee beside the Seine in Paris?
  57. Offer to mentor a young person who needs your affection and wisdom. Check out a local school of any level from elementary to college. Tell them your background and say that you would like to tutor or mentor a student needing support.
  58. Write out a list of everything you’ve ever learned. How can you go back and do more of one of those items? Most can be expanded to include newer innovations.
  59. Start a notebook of ideas to explore, then write a page about one of those ideas. You might even get excited about the possibilities and want to do them all. Don’t! To begin, just pick one or two ideas that are within reach and excite you most.
  60. Make a list of the joys in your life. Your list will never end if you are honest about the joyful life you’ve lived.
  61. Change your hairstyle. The one you’ve had for the past few decades needs to be upgraded. Trust me on this, guys and gals!
  62. Become a Perennial by continuing to bloom with each season of your life. What does that mean to you?
  63. Read books you never got around to, or everyone else read but you didn’t. Or watch a movie that you missed when it first came out. Each of us has a list like that and maybe we’re mortified that we never saw that movie or read that book!
  64. Become an expert in something you’ve always been interested in. Choose one thing and learn everything you can about it. We have access to information that has never been available before.
  65. Join a local theater group. There is always something that needs to be done, even if you don’t want to act. Try sewing costumes or painting sets.
  66. Start your own “wild woman” or “wild man” group and go crazy. Some of us were active during the hippy-trippy era but we calmed down. Maybe it’s time to “turn on, tune in, and drop out” again. What would that look like in your sixties, seventies, or beyond?
  67. Learn how to drum then learn how to make your own drum. Join a drumming group. What does “drumming” do for you?
  68. Learn the history of the area where you live. This might result in a small book that is available for visitors to your area.
  69. Learn to play the recorder and encourage a few friends to learn, too. You’ll soon have your own recorder group that meets regularly to play.
  70. Take some of the courses on AARP ( There are also games on AARP that you can play with others.
  71. Write a course on something you know well and invite others to learn. Online courses are a big deal right now. COVID did us a favor by making sure we could do more from home than ever before, and the love of being home has continued.
  72. Write your Senator about issues you are concerned about. Every community has something that needs to be corrected or changed for the better.
  73. Make phone calls to encourage voting. Get a list of people in your preferred party and make those calls.
  74. Pick up those who can’t drive and take them to the polls to vote. Everyone who can vote and wants to vote needs the opportunity and often they don’t have the transportation.
  75. Attend local political action groups. There just might be an action where you can help. Make posters, make phone calls, write letters to the editor.
  76. Join a writing group. There are guidelines available online and these groups can be virtual as well as live. Learn how to give sincere, constructive comments.
  77. Write to an author you love and tell them how much you appreciate their talent. Usually, there is a way to write to these authors, whether through their publisher, their editor, or their personal website. They love your feedback!
  78. Send holiday cards that you’ve made yourself. Start early and buy envelopes to match. Friends and family will appreciate your creativity and the time you took to make something for them.
  79. Learn photography. Back to YouTube for this one. Some incredible photography has come from a cell phone. You don’t need fancy camera equipment to be a photography artist.
  80. Get lost in British mystery shows. There are new ones all the time and going back to watch ones you saw before is a treat!
  81. Write your own mystery book. You know you’ve always wanted to. There are courses available to give ideas and structure for a good mystery.
  82. Take a part-time job with or without pay, but not necessarily as a greeter at Walmart. It’s a good way to meet people and not feel lonely. Make it a job that is totally different from the job you retired from.
  83. Gather your recipes and make an online cookbook. Your children will love this, too. Give as a wedding gift to your grandchildren or friends.
  84. Volunteer to feed the homeless population. Most organizations feed the homeless on holidays, but some have a regular schedule throughout the year. Allow yourself to chat with some and learn their background. They will appreciate it more than you can ever know.
  85. Learn how to teach ESL (English as a Second Language). I don’t know of many communities where this isn’t a necessity. People are in our world from so many different places and learning English is helpful not only in the USA but when you travel. Or learn sign language.
  86. Make cookies or sandwiches for your grandchildren’s classroom. They will be so proud to show off their grandparent to their classmates, and many moms don’t have time because they work.
  87. Offer a room to a college student who can’t afford the dormitory. Maybe you’ll find a nursing student who would be there to help you if you need it.
  88. Have a tea party for friends and/or neighbors. Yes, an old-fashioned tea party with your best teacups, teapots, and little sandwiches. Set a table that feels like a British tea party.
  89. Ask your pastor where your help is most needed. Sometimes you’ll be surprised by what they need. It may be as simple as folding Sunday’s bulletins, making phone calls, or answering the phone in the office.
  90. Write a “letter to the editor” of your local newspaper without complaining about something. Make glowing comments about the great things in your community. We get enough grouches and complaints, so make it joyful.
  91. Help out at your library or any spot where you enjoy spending time. Maybe they need someone to read to the children, or guide someone to a particular section, or simply sort out books that are returned.
  92. Create a small directory of the interesting or historical sites in your community. Print it and make it available for visitors.
  93. Learn about the birds in your area and create a spot just for them. Not a birder? Then join a birding group and find out what the buzz is all about.
  94. Play with fingerpaints or clay. Enjoy the sensual feelings under your fingers. Don’t worry about the mess, but revel in it!
  95. Work a crossword puzzle daily to help increase your vocabulary. NYTimes and other newspapers have a daily crossword puzzle, or you can buy a little magazine that has only crossword puzzles. It keeps your brain alive and active.
  96. Always have a jigsaw puzzle on display in your home. Work on it a little bit every day and invite visitors to add a few pieces. This is another fun way to keep your mind active.
  97. Get hooked on almost anything that intrigues you and learn more about it. Tides, cloud formations, different kinds of pine trees, why something was invented, how your town came into being.
  98. Explore the background of something in your home and learn how it came to be. Was it a family heirloom that somehow just made it to your home? Who had it first? Why does it still get carried around in the family? Was it bought new when you had your first apartment?
  99. Take daily supplements and take a nap every afternoon. Both are highly underrated.

Bonus: Throw a birthday party for yourself!  

By Lucy L. Jones, Ph.D., LLC

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