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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creating Social Portfolio

       Prior to retirement many of us begin planning for our financial needs by the creation of a financial portfolio. But we often don’t pay as much attention to our level of physical activity and our social needs. This happens in spite of the fact that our health, both physical and mental, is strengthened by our connectedness with others and our willingness to stay active.  When we pull back and isolate ourselves, it may be a sign of approaching illness.
        There may be some barriers to developing new relationships or maintaining those that we have had for a long time. We might lack transportation opportunities, like driving a car or we may move to a distant place where we don’t know anyone.  People who live in the city sometimes move to rural regions and vice versa. Making friends in the new region may be more difficult.
       Maintaining as well as developing new relationships may be facilitated by the creation of a social portfolio.  For example returning to school as an adult student, where we can explore our options, expose ourselves to new ideas and have new adventures is a metaphor for the creation of a social portfolio.  Engaging in this type of activity can help us to create a plan for our community engagement.
       A social portfolio is similar to a financial portfolio.  Both of them encourage us express the diversity of our activities and to not “put all of your eggs in one basket.” While that might seem obvious when we are considering our finances, it is less understood at social and physical activity level.
        Our social portfolios should include “sound activities, mental challenges, and interpersonal relationships that can be carried into old age.” We also need to remain physically active when we are alone and when we’re with others. 
        What do you enjoy doing while you are alone? I read both nonfiction and fiction, which is mostly solitary with low-level activity. I use my laptop at least 2 or 3 hours a day. For me, computer use can be both solitary and social. I do research and construct these blog entries alone but I also communicate directly with others through e-mail and Facebook. I ride my bike whenever possible which is solitary but highly active.
        On the social side of things, I’m still teaching part time.  I am also on the Board of the Local Senior’s Centre. I participate in Board Meetings and committee work both of which are highly active.  I ride my bike whenever possible which is solitary and highly active.
          Gene Cohen encourages us to create a balance within our social portfolio.  Some people are very physically active but almost always alone.  Others are almost always doing something with others but are sedentary.
If you are interested in this idea, google social portfolio. There is quite a bit of material available on the internet. 
.   1. The main ideas for this blog entry were taken from The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain by Dr. Gene Cohen

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