Social seniors changing expectations of retirement

For decades, the popular image of retirement has placed seniors relaxing on the beach, hitting the links or spending some quiet time at home, but if you look at retirement communities across the country that is no longer the case. A growing number of older adults are eschewing the traditional retirement lifestyle for more active pursuits. These newest retirees are helping reshape how people view senior living, The Wall Street Journal reports.

This trend is particularly evident in Florida, where adults in their 60s, 70s and 80s are spending time going out, dating and living lives that seem to fit in more at a college campus than a retirement community. Among those seniors enjoying an active lifestyle is Larry Schwartz, a 66-year-old transplant from New York City. His weekends are often spent taking women out for dinner and dancing - and he says he is not alone.

"There are like four or five places that we go to at least Friday and Saturday. Sometimes we go on a Wednesday and they are all mobbed all the time," he told the newspaper. "Everybody is in the same boat; everybody is looking for somebody."

Whether you're looking for love or just trying to stay socially active, following the lead of Schwartz and those like him may be a cornerstone of healthy aging. In fact, a 2009 study from Rush University in Chicago found that social engagement is closely related to maintaining a sharp mind. Researchers analyzed the brain function of more than 830 adults and determined that having an active social life helps maintain cognitive function as you get older.