For a Senior Adventure, Get on the Bus
Don't get around much anymore? Hop on the bus.
Bus trips, a staple of outings for older adults, offer adventure, fun, and companionship. Bus trips include everything from day trips to world-class art museums to shopping ventures to cross-country treks.
Experts say bus trips benefit older adults in both body and mind because they include a combination of socialization and physical stimulation.
Although studies have shown an association between staying active and a reduced risk for cognitive decline, the National Institutes of Health says that researchers still aren’t sure whether these factors can actually prevent the disease. However, remaining social certainly has tangible benefits for older adults.
"Taking a bus trip for a lecture or a concert is not just something to do to pass the time. It's to learn new things. The more you keep yourself open to those possibilities, the better the brain works," says New York City psychologist Ruth Jaffe, Ph.D. "I have worked with people in their 80s and 90s who are changing because their learning never ceases."
Because many senior groups offer a wide range of bus trips, there's something to suit everyone. For some it's a gardening expedition, for others a Broadway play.
"For older adults who can't drive anymore or find themselves isolated, it's a great way to get out and try something new," says Jacqui M. Makowski, Philadelphia Senior Center communications director.
When you check out bus trips, choose those that fit your interests and abilities.
Do your homework
"Review the itinerary and see if it is right for you. Some people like a tightly organized trip, while others prefer to explore on their own. If your mobility is limited, ask how much walking is involved in the trip," Makowski says.
Dr. Jaffe advises older adults to check departments of recreation, senior centers, churches, or synagogues for interesting bus trips. "These outings are usually open to everyone, so you don't have to be a member to sign up for a bus trip," she says.
Whether you book a bus trip that involves entertainment, volunteer activity, or education, try a new adventure with a few friends or by yourself.
"Without question, bus trips are a built-in protective mechanism that seniors should not forget," Dr. Cefalu says. "The more activities you add to get out of a routine, the better off you are."