What inspires you to get up out of bed every morning? The answer is different for every single one of us, of course; however, there is one commonality: it could allow you to live longer. Scientific studies are showing us that having a feeling of purpose is a vital aspect in not just senior quality of life but also longevity, something shown in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy in the world.
Interestingly, there isn’t a word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. Instead, there is a concentration on maintaining purpose and meaning beyond a person’s working years and defining themselves according to their current passions and pastimes.
Cultivate a sense of compassion for other people. There’s no shortage of suffering these days, and there’s something that each 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 in particular – homelessness, mental health, single parents, stray animals, veterans, etc. Channel that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make an impact.
Prioritize family. With so many families living far away from one another, and even further separated recently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, make a plan to close the gaps and bring family members closer together. Plan a backyard holiday gathering or family reunion. Commit to a video chat or phone call with a different family member weekly to reconnect and get caught up on their lives. Focus on writing down 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 explored, such as earning a degree in a different field of interest? Investigate volunteer or part-time job opportunities that offer the chance to learn something new while serving others.
Make time to play. Meaning and purpose are found in lighthearted endeavors too! Hobbies, art, sports, travel, exploring nature, music, reading, and many other engaging and fun activities provide opportunities 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.”
At The Care Company, the leading at-home caregiver in Greater Toronto, our caregiving team is full of creative strategies to help older adults continue to enjoy a life of purpose and meaning. Contact us online or call us any time at (416) 422-2273 for additional tips and to learn more about our personalized in-home care for older adults and to request an in-home consultation.