What inspires you to get out of bed each and every morning? The answer is different for every one of us, of course, however, there is one commonality: it may be at the root of how to live longer. Scientific studies are showing us that having a feeling of purpose is an essential element in longevity, something evidenced in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy on the planet.
Interestingly, there is no word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. There is, instead, a concentration on maintaining meaning and purpose beyond a person’s working years and defining themselves according to their current pastimes and passions.
So how can we help seniors – and ourselves – stay involved in what sparks interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Here are some great ideas to allow you to get started:
Nurture a sense of compassion for other people. There is no shortage of suffering these days, and there is something that all of us can do in some way to help ease another person’s struggles. Have a conversation with the older adults in your life about what or who touches their hearts in particular – mental health, homelessness, stray animals, single parents, veterans, etc. Turn that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make an impact.
Focus on family. With so many families living far away from each other, and even further separated recently as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, take steps to close the gaps and bring family members closer together. Plan a backyard holiday gathering or family reunion. Plan on a video chat or phone call with a different member of the family each week to reconnect and catch up on their lives. Focus on documenting your life story, and that of past generations, to share with children and grandchildren.
Redefine retirement. For a senior who is already retired from one career, consider another. Is there an unfulfilled dream that might be investigated, such as earning a degree in a different field of interest? Investigate volunteer or part-time employment opportunities that offer the chance to learn something new while serving others.
Take time to play. Meaning and purpose are found in lighthearted endeavors too! Sports, hobbies, art, travel, exploring nature, music, reading, and lots of other engaging and fun activities provide possibilities for self-expression and a far 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 a senior continue to take pleasure in a life of purpose and meaning. Reach out online to CareWorks Health Services, or call us at (949) 859-4700 any time for additional tips and to find out more about our personalized Mission Viejo senior services. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.