What inspires you to get out of bed each morning? The answer is different for every single one of us, of course, but there’s one commonality: your answer may allow you to live longer. Research is showing us that having a sense of purpose is a vital element in longevity, something evident in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy on earth.
Remarkably, there’s no word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. Instead, there is a focus on maintaining meaning and purpose beyond a person’s working years and defining themselves according to their current pastimes and passions.
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 some inspiring ideas to get you started:
Cultivate a sense of compassion for other people. There’s no shortage of suffering these days, and there’s something that all of us can do in some way to help ease the struggles of someone else. Have a conversation with the older adults in your life about what or who touches their hearts the most – mental health, homelessness, stray animals, single parents, veterans, etc. Channel that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make a direct impact.
Focus on family. With many families living far away from one another, and even further separated recently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking steps to close the gaps and bring family members closer together will decrease feelings of isolation and help provide meaning. Consider arranging an outdoor holiday gathering or family reunion. Plan a video chat or phone call with a different member of the family weekly to reconnect and stay caught up on their lives. Work on documenting your life story, and that of past generations, to share with children and grandchildren.
Redefine retirement. For a senior loved one 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? Look into volunteer or part-time employment opportunities that offer the chance to learn something new while serving others.
Take time to play. Meaning and purpose can be found in lighthearted endeavors too. Hobbies, art, sports, music, travel, exploring nature, reading, and many other fun and engaging activities offer opportunities for self-expression and a more enjoyable life. Betye Saar, a 93-year-old artist, explains, “…the creative part of me is forever young.”
The caregiving professionals at Golden Harmony are full of innovative strategies to help older adults continue to take pleasure in a life of purpose and meaning. Call us any time at 919-426-7522 for additional tips and to find out more about our customized in-home solutions for senior care in Raleigh, NC, and surrounding areas. Please see our full service area.