If you thought older age was all about slowing down, think again.
A busy social life, being physically active and helping others are all key to ageing well.
Royal Voluntary Service, which runs the Chesham House community centre and vintage tea room in Lancing, is highlighting the importance of staying social in older age following a recent survey.
The charity supports older people at home, in hospital and in the community.
It asked people aged 70-plus to name their secrets to a happy and healthy older age and found keeping the brain active, having a positive outlook on life, doing regular exercise and laughing were at the top of their list.
Three in ten are volunteers, which they say is a great way to learn new skills and give something back.
Andy Bloor, operations manager for Sussex, said: “Loneliness can be a major problem in older age, so it’s important to stay social and in touch.
“Royal Voluntary Service provides a host of social activities and events for older people in the community, supported by funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
“Across West Sussex, we provide a county-wide befriending service offering companionship and assisted visits. In Lancing, we have a friendly community centre with a fantastic vintage tea room. We also have a transport scheme in Adur and Worthing.
“These social events provide opportunities to meet up with old friends and make new ones, share conversations and common interests, and enjoy something to eat and drink in a friendly, welcoming environment.”
Being physically active has been shown to significantly reduce frailty in older people, which helps reduce the chance of falls and being admitted to hospital.
Taking the time to exercise on a regular basis can improve not just physical health but mental health, too, helping older people stay mobile and independent for longer.
Mr Bloor said: “We’ve always believed in the ethos that sharing time saves lives. Thirty-five thousand wonderful men and women, more than half of them over 65, give their time to help provide our services, which make a huge difference to older people’s lives.
“They settle older people back into their homes after a hospital stay, run cafés, clubs and community workshops, and provide transport to enable access to local services.
“They befriend lonely older people, share stories over a cup of tea and run household errands. These two-way relationships benefit both parties and many wonderful friendships have formed.”
Older people who volunteer are said to be happier, healthier, less likely to be depressed or lonely, and have a better quality of life than those who do not.
Contact Royal Voluntary Service on 01903 854640, email Coastalwestsussexhub@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk or visit www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/get-help for more information.