What inspires you to get out of bed each morning? The answer is different for every single one of us, of course, but there is one commonality: it could allow you to live longer. Scientific studies are showing us that the answer to “how to live longer” is tied to having a feeling of purpose, an essential factor in longevity and something evidenced in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy in the world.
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 passions and pastimes.
So how can we help older adults – and ourselves – stay involved with what sparks interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Below are a few suggestions to help you to get started:
Cultivate a sense of compassion for others. There’s no shortage of suffering these days, and there are things that each of us can do in some way to help lessen the struggles of somebody else. Have a conversation with the older adults in your life about who or what touches their hearts in particular – homelessness, mental health, single parents, stray animals, veterans, etc. Turn that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make an impact.
Prioritize family. With many families living far away from each other, and even further separated recently as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, make a plan to close the gaps and bring family members closer together. Plan an outdoor holiday gathering or family reunion. Commit to a video chat or phone call with a different member of the family weekly to reconnect and catch up on their lives. Work on documenting your 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 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 opportunity to learn something new while serving others.
Take time to play. Meaning and purpose can be found in lighthearted endeavors too! Sports, hobbies, art, music, travel, exploring nature, reading, and many other engaging and fun 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.”
Our caregiving team is full of innovative strategies to help a senior continue to enjoy a life of purpose and meaning. Email or call Seniorcorp at 757-640-0557 any time for additional tips and to find out about our personalized in-home senior care services in Portsmouth and nearby areas.