Help Seniors Live Longer and Better Through Finding a Sense of Purpose
What inspires you to get up out of bed every morning? The answer is different for every one of us, of course, but there’s one commonality: it could extend your life. Scientific studies are showing us that having a feeling of purpose is a key way to help seniors live longer and better, something evidenced in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy on earth.
Remarkably, there is no word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. There is, instead, a concentration on maintaining purpose and meaning beyond a person’s working years and defining themselves according to their current passions and pastimes.
So just how can we help older adults – and ourselves – stay involved in what sparks interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Nurture a sense of compassion for others. There is no shortage of suffering these days, and there’s something that each of us can do in some way to help lessen the struggles of somebody else. Have a conversation with the seniors in your life about who or what touches their hearts in particular – homelessness, mental health, stray animals, single parents, veterans, etc. Turn that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make a direct impact.
Prioritize family. With many families living far away from one another, make a plan to close the gaps and bring family members closer together. Plan a backyard family reunion or holiday gathering. Schedule a video chat or phone call with a different member of the family every week to reconnect and get caught up on their lives. Focus on documenting a senior loved one’s life story, and that of past generations, to share with future generations.
Redefine retirement. For a senior who is already retired from one career, consider another. Is there an unrealized dream that could be explored, such as earning a degree in a different field of interest? Look into volunteer or part-time employment opportunities offering the chance to learn something new while serving others.
Make time to play. Purpose and meaning can be found in lighthearted endeavors too! Sports, hobbies, art, travel, exploring nature, music, reading, and lots of other fun and engaging activities offer possibilities for self-expression and a more enjoyable life. Betye Saar, a 93-year-old artist, explains, “…the creative part of me is forever young.”
Our caregiving team is full of creative strategies to help older adults continue to take pleasure in a life filled with meaning and purpose. Give us a call any time at (866) 940-4343 for additional tips and to learn more about our personalized in-home care for seniors in Santa Rosa, Walnut Creek, Sonoma, and the surrounding areas.