Elizabeth had always been an extrovert. Whether she was starring in school plays as a kid, leading the debate team to state championships, or cutting it up on the dance floor in college, Elizabeth knew how to have a good time. Her outgoing personality was like a magnet; never short of friends, she was always doing something exciting.
When Elizabeth’s vision started declining in her late 60’s, it caused her to slow down her social life. After she was told she could no longer drive, much of her social activities tapered off. Her family noticed that she’d started to stay home more often. Instead of chattering enthusiastically about her plans or latest adventure, she sat quietly during family meals.
It was her daughter Sarah who found a way to help Elizabeth feel like her old self again. Noticing a poster for a local community dance program for aging adults, Sarah immediately knew her mom would love it. The two of them went together for the first time, and it wasn’t long before Elizabeth was twirling around the place again, dancing with a slew of partners.
Is Your Aging Loved One an Extrovert?
Because she knew her mom so well, Sarah was able to find an activity that matched Elizabeth’s personality. It’s helpful to learn your loved one’s personality type, since this affects how they gain—and lose—energy. Extroverts recharge through social interaction: if your loved one isn’t getting enough social time, they might be feeling unnecessarily fatigued, agitated, or depressed. If your loved one’s decreased mobility has negatively impacted their social activities, it’s likely also hurting their health—mentally and physically. The good news is that the solution is quite simple, at its core: find a way for your loved one to spend more time with people in a variety of contexts. When extroverts have their needs met for socializing, they feel energized and more mentally fit.
Determining what your loved one’s personality type is should be pretty straightforward, though it’s important to look beneath the surface. Sometimes people themselves aren’t aware of which way they lean, and can spend years engaging in activities they actually find draining. Encouraging your loved one to take a short personality test is an easy way to find out. And consider what you’ve observed about your loved one over the years. Do they seem more energized after spending time in a crowd of people? Do they take risks easily? Exploring personality tests and asking questions will help confirm whether your loved one leans toward being extroverted.
The Best Activities for Extroverted Older Adults
Learning more about your loved one’s personality type lets you help them choose activities that will satisfy their needs. Particularly if your loved one is struggling to stay social, finding fun hobbies might make a big difference to their overall sense of happiness. Thankfully there are many programs and activities geared toward extroverted seniors. Once you know what to look for, you can search for something in your hometown, and even accompany your loved one. If you tailor the types of activities towards their preferences, you can see the positive effects of socialization.
For extroverted seniors, there’s no better activity than dancing. Not only is dancing proven to decrease chances of dementia, but it’s also great exercise. Interacting with new people while exercising raises serotonin levels and stimulates brain activity. Check out local community centers, the YMCA, and retirement communities for dance classes or events geared toward older adults—most will even have options for those with limited mobility.
If your loved one isn’t into dancing, there are plenty more fitness classes to try. Whether they enjoy water aerobics, swimming, hiking, gardening, or walking, there’s something for everyone when it comes to staying in shape. Look around to see if there are exercise groups for older adults in your community. Studies show that both socializing and exercise decrease stress, lower blood pressure, and lessen depression.
This might sound like a low-key option for the extroverted crowd, but it’s important to have activities that don’t involve physical fitness. If your loved one has decreased mobility, consider introducing them to a local game night with other older adults. They might be a Scrabble whiz, or enjoy a game night that rotates some of the classics—or perhaps a video game night might be right up their alley. Try looking online for game nights offered at local senior centers or organizations in your area.
Red Hat Society
These are women-only groups, and a wonderful organization to meet like-minded, outgoing people. A great idea for extroverted older women seeking to form close friendships with other fun ladies, Red Hat events often involve meals, games, or attending shows together. Look online to see if there’s a Red Hat chapter in your area.
Library Discussion Groups
Your community library probably offers discussion groups. This is a great idea if your extroverted loved one has a passion for academics, and is looking for other curious minds to talk with. These groups sometimes focus on a variety of topics, from books to politics. Engaging in good conversation and debate increases brain activity. At the same time, learning new subjects also helps to improve memory.
It’s so important to find ways to keep your loved one engaged in life. Increased happiness directly correlates to better health: improving your social life as you age “can still reduce physical and cognitive health issues.” Whether they join a local game night or the Red Hat society, there are many ways for your aging loved one to stay socially active, even with decreased mobility. Getting involved in activities that are well-suited to your loved one’s outgoing nature might just add an extra sparkle to their eyes, and enhance their day-to-day quality of life.
To discover a wide range of programs and activities perfect for your aging loved one, the Institute on Aging provides a wealth of quality resources. Get in touch with us today to learn more.