Life begins after retirement! Yes, we can really start to live, when we do not have to get up for work, when the children have flown the family nest and do not need constant care. "The head may be white and the health not so good, but we are still young at heart" and it is time fun. There is so much to do for the elderly.
The aim of European Year of Activity for the Elderly and Intergenerational Solidarity is to attract public attention to the contributions to society made by the elderly.
For 40 years the "Universities of the Third Age" have educated, developed and stimulated senior citizens by arranging courses in psychology, history of art, medical science, astronomy, and many other interesting topics. The lectures are taught by practitioners and active university professors, which has a huge impact on the attractiveness of the courses. The Universities of the Third Age also organize sightseeing tours and sporting activities. The senior students easily grasp such "cosmic" inventions like the mobile phones, timetables with numbers, ATMs, self-service checkouts in supermarkets or the secrets of the internet.
Development and recreation centres offer fitness classes for seniors, consultation with a physiotherapist, workshops on how to deal with back and hip pain, classes in English, workshops in felting and courses in make-up. Cafés with a relaxed ambiance or hobby group meetings for tourism, playing Bridge, reading, chess or knitting enthusiasts complete the offers and give the opportunity to exchange views and experiences with other people.
The elderly like to travel. Travel agencies try to meet demand of such a large social group in Poland by offering trips and holidays of one or more days. Sunny holidays in Leba or Jastrzebia Gora, active winter holidays in Zakopane or Zawoja, skiing or hot springs, hiking and exploring places for which there never had been time. Very popular among the elderly are pilgrimages to religious sites, such as the Holy Land, Lourdes and Fatima, or in Poland the Wejherowska Calvary, Jasna Gora and Lichen. Especially attractive for single senior citizens are offers of holidays over Christmas and Easter. The carp served on Christmas Eve or blessed eggs taste much better in company than alone.
Spa resorts with health facilities willing provide their range of activities for the elderly. Packages of treatments are targeted directly to the needs of senior citizens as well as the company of other participants which makes the elderly feel like in heaven.
The Seniors Europeans Club operates in Krakow and offers a wide range of evenings with music or poetry, meetings with globetrotters and other interesting individuals while also organising trips to museums and exhibitions. Participants of certain activities have the opportunity to share with others their knowledge and interests. Exhibitions of works by members are organised that have been painted with brushes, made with a crochet needles or just a needle and thread. Seminars in the art of remembering are very useful and the elderly arrange their own literary evenings where they can present their own work.
Institute of Theology in Bielsko - Biala offers the elderly the opportunity to study theology.
What is a typical day of a Polish senior citizen? It could be cycling or swimming, followed by a trip to the cinema, a cafe and then some Nordic walking. The gardens of senior citizens add colour to the city and home bakeries tempt with their smells. Many venues organise dances for the elderly with music from the first years of their youth. Photography enthusiast clubs run outdoor events where their passion can be developed further and ballroom dance classes make the elderly glide around the dance floor like professional dancers.
For the elderly, for whom television serials are not enough, Poland offers a healthy dose of intellectual entertainment. Cinemas and theatres are organising special screenings and presentations for senior citizen clubs at a cost much lower than the usual. The Rialto Cinema and Theatre Complex in Katowice offers monthly screenings for older viewers of interesting films. The theatre in Wola, Warsaw has launched a new promotional program, the Senior Friendly Theatre. Once a month, for a selected show, tickets are available at a special promotional price.
Most senior citizens already surf the Internet freely. Websites such as
www.seniorzywakcji.pl, www.senior.pl or www.forum50.org contain interesting information, practical advice and suggestions how to spend free time. The websites for the elderly contain a wealth of information on health, tax settlements with the authorities, rebates and discounts in shops and establishments, cooking and religion. They explain complex legal issues in a straightforward way. For the elderly, whose families or children now live in Dublin or London, the Internet is an indispensable medium to keep in touch.
The first Warsaw Database of Voluntary Services opened in 2011. The database has suggestions for senior citizens who want to spend their time and potential by helping others. The voluntary activities are very diverse from tutoring, to helping with orientation in the city or just going shopping. The aims of the database are to give the opportunity for the elderly to be more active and to give them a sense of being needed. The need to be for someone important gives also the possibility of becoming a grandmother for hire. Some senior citizens find it gratifying to wipe a child's nose, disinfect a bleeding knee with hydrogen peroxide or just hugging a child that does not have his own grandmother. A hired grandmother can be a real treasure. No one reads fairy tales as beautifully like a grandmother. Therefore, in many libraries and community centres grandmothers, students of the University of the Third Age, read stories to groups of children.
The representatives of interesting professions enhance senior citizens clubs in an unusual way. The Retro Orchestra is a group of elderly musicians with experience of working in a professional orchestra. The Warsaw Theatre, Time for the Elderly, each year prepares a new production.
Many tourist attractions in Poland are waiting for senior citizens