They say that to successfully raise a child, it takes a village. I’d like to propose the idea that to be a healthy, active senior, it might just take an entourage.
For an actor who’s managing a film career, the entourage gets them safely to events, protects them from crazy fans, and makes sure they have a cold beverage when they’re thirsty. Now that I’m in my 60s, I need all these things.
While most of us will not achieve star status and hire an entourage, we can build a team of people in our lives who protect and support us as we do the same for them. Wild animals know instinctively that there is safety in numbers. Lawmen in the old west formed a posse when there was a dangerous mission. But that’s probably too many analogies for one column.
Emergencies are going to happen. Whether it’s a sudden period of rapid heartbeat or a broken pipe under the sink, we will all need resources in the future to get things fixed. Isolation becomes more and more dangerous, so having an entourage at your disposal can save your life.
How can we put this idea into play in our own lives? We can start building a community of people around us for our health and safety as we age.
Unfortunately, as we get older, we don’t get more courageous. There are times in our lives when making new friends feels easy. When my children were in grade school, we were constantly showing up for soccer teams, class birthday parties, and music lessons. We easily met other families along the way. Our children gave us all something in common.
With this in mind, look for opportunities to do things you love and develop friendships with others who share your interests.
- Knock on doors. Your neighbors are not just resources, they are potential new friends. Put together a game night and invite them. Bake the cookies and see if someone can help you solve a problem with your cellphone. Offer to babysit or housesit for a young family and get to know them all better.
- Join something. Anything. It might be a group at your church that is working on a nonprofit effort or a quilting club sponsored by a local retailer. I joined Weight Watchers a few months ago and now have a pack of new men and women that I see once a week as we all lose weight. And senior centers in most communities have multiple opportunities to meet others as you exercise, learn a new skill or practice your favorite hobby.
- Travel with a group. There’s no better place to make new friends than on a vacation. Look at trips available through AAA and AARP, or just reach out to a local travel agent.
- Take a class. Many colleges and universities, including George State, let seniors attend for free. Find out more at admissions.gsu.edu.
- Check out local websites like Meetup. You can join one of the hundreds of specialized groups from gardening to salsa dancing to poker. You can also use the platform to start a group that others will join. And it’s a perfect place to look for ballet tickets, local concerts, and activities at discount prices. (www.meetup.com)
Building your own entourage may sound silly at first, but it can be an extremely important part of our safety, mental health, and happiness as we all continue to age. Surround yourself with people of all ages, and maybe take turns getting the cold beverages.