During the Great Depression, the U.S. Government created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which put hundreds of thousands of young men to work on environmental projects. By the time the program ended in 1942, President Roosevelt’s Tree Army had planted more than 3.5 billion trees and created more than 700 state parks.
Nowadays, the abbreviation CCC stands for something new: “Connect, Create and Contribute.” Promoted by the Administration on Community Living (ACL), the CCC initiative proposes a variety of ways for seniors to stay vital throughout life.
“C” for yourself what some of these ideas are to help you age successfully:
In its national survey of adults 45 and over, “Loneliness and Social Connections,” AARP reported that more than one-third (35 percent) of people are lonely, a percentage that rises to 1 in 2 among midlife and older adults earning less than $25,000 a year. In England, Mark Robinson, the chief officer of Age UK, Britain’s largest charity working with older people, warned loneliness can be hazardous to your health.
“It’s proven to be worse for health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, but it can be overcome and needn’t be a factor in older people’s lives,” he said. In response, British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a Minister for Loneliness in 2017.
If you are feeling lonely, connect with a friend, family member or clergy person, or join a club or group in which you’ve long been interested. And with today’s social technology, there are more ways than ever to connect. With someone you haven’t heard from in a while, start your outreach with a simple text or email. If you make a connection, you don’t have to do lunch; rather, follow up with a FaceTime or Skype call. The idea is to create movement, however small in the beginning, to get you unstuck from where you are. Reaching out at first might seem like a big effort, but like exercise, once you get into a routine of making social connections, it can add years to your life.
Do you have a child or grandchild you don’t see enough? How wonderful would it be for them to receive a handwritten letter or postcard from you? Another way to connect is to plant a garden. If you don’t have much room, use containers to place on your balcony, porch or patio. Reaping what you sow — watching a seed that one day will bear fruit — is one of life’s wonders.
While in your creative space, think about the special activities that brought you so much joy in the past. Was it picking up your paintbrush to watercolor, lacing up your hiking shoes to go trailblazing or opening your laptop to start on a new screenplay? You are at one of those rare crossroads in life where you’ve been given a blank canvas to go create whatever you want. Go for it!
If you’re fortunate enough to have the time and health to volunteer, make the most of it by positively impacting the lives of others. There are so many reasons to volunteer: It connects you to others, it’s good for your mind and body, it brings fun and fulfillment, and if you’re still working, it could help advance your career.
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the United States. This number includes public charities, private foundations, and other types of nonprofit organizations, including chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations, and civic leagues.
Would you like to offer your years of business experience to others who share your entrepreneurial spirit? Then consider joining SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground and grow.
Or, if you believe everyone deserves a decent place to live, why not check out Habitat for Humanity? Its volunteers have helped more than 4 million people construct, rehabilitate or preserve more than 800,000 “simple, decent, and affordable” homes since its founding in 1976.
Maybe pets are your passion? If so, consider joining the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (https://petobesityprevention.org/). Yes, such a group really exists where pet owners can learn new tricks for keeping their pets happier and healthier. Or if you recently lost a pet, check out the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (https://www.aplb.org/. If they’re able to help you, you may in turn be able to help others in the group who have experienced a similar loss.
The Choice is Yours
Sometimes all that is required to stay vital, relevant, and in the flow of life simply boils down to making a positive choice.
In England’s darkest days during World War II — when he never should have felt more alone as Germany was relentlessly bombing his beloved England — Prime Minister Winston Churchill, then a cigar-smoking senior citizen, knew that this horrible episode would eventually pass.
His attitude made all the difference.
He said, “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.”