There appears to be a negative stigma around becoming a senior citizen. Many people are afraid of getting older and society has created and propagated the perception that senior citizens start to become a useless and unattractive demographic. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Senior citizens are a vibrant and happy group of people. Especially when they are within an environment that is accepting and inclusive. Much like any other person, senior citizens can suffer a variety of health issues, mental and physical alike. The dynamic changes when their quality of care changes because of the way society starts to diminish their value.

When senior citizens decide to go into retirement and work to live out their remaining years with tranquility and as far away from stress as possible, what is the best way to do so? Well, there are a variety of healthy ways that seniors can choose to live out their remaining years, two of the most common are by traveling the world or living in a retirement home.

Traveling the world is usually considered one of the greatest opportunities for twenty-something-year-olds, but it’s also a popular lifestyle choice for senior citizens. In fact, according to a recent report from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 99% of surveyed seniors claimed that they were planning on traveling at sometime in 2016. Many of them were planning anywhere from four to five trips throughout the year.

While some view traveling as nothing more than a fun distraction, there are actually a variety of proven health benefits of traveling. Several studies show that both women and men benefit greatly from world travel. More specifically, women who travel frequently have a lower risk of suffering a heart attack than those who don’t travel, while men who travel frequently have a 20% lower risk of death and a 30% lower risk of heart disease when compared to men who do not travel. Traveling can also help battle depression; a study from the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin claims that women in particular significantly reduce their chances of depression when traveling abroad. Additionally, traveling the world simply allows seniors to get away from the stresses of daily life and to recharge themselves.

Clearly traveling the world is an excellent way to battle depression and other health issues, but what about living in a retirement home? Is it just as good as traveling abroad? Well, despite popular and negative stereotypes of retirement homes, these senior centers are actually quite good for seniors. According to research, senior citizens who spend time in a senior citizen center actually lead healthier lives and have better social interactions and networks. Senior centers also feature a variety of artistic and creative opportunities for seniors to explore. For example, one center in Iowa City features a television studio that records original programming for the seniors to enjoy.

Additionally, senior centers allow for senior citizens to get physically and mentally healthy. Several centers offer a variety of health classes, like yoga, as well as programs that teach seniors how to cope with chronic diseases, like diabetes and arthritis.

Becoming a senior citizen doesn’t need to become a negative experience. In fact, it should be the very opposite. Your senior years are supposed to be the culmination of a long and healthy life. It’s up to you decide how you want to spend your life. Would you prefer to travel the world for the foreseeable future or spend your remaining years at a senior center? Regardless of your choice, you’ll be sure to gain a host of new experiences and memories. I will discuss over time some of the new experiences to obtain as you approach your senior years.