October 21, 2021
What inspires you to get out of bed every morning? The answer is different for every one of us, of course, but there is one commonality: it may help you to live longer. Scientific studies are showing us that having a feeling of purpose is a vital factor in longevity, 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 seniors find purpose and stay involved in what sparks interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Below are a few inspiring suggestions to get you started:
Nurture a sense of compassion for other people. There is no shortage of suffering in this world, and there is something that each of us can do in some way to help ease the struggles of somebody else. Have a conversation with the seniors in your life about who or what touches their hearts the most – homelessness, mental health, stray animals, single parents, veterans, etc. Direct that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make a direct impact.
Prioritize family. With many families living at a distance 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. Plan on a phone call or video chat with a different family member each week to reconnect and get caught 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 loved one 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 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! Hobbies, art, sports, travel, exploring nature, music, reading, and many other engaging and fun activities provide 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.”
Continuum’s team of caregivers in St. Louis and the nearby areas is full of innovative strategies to help seniors find purpose and continue to take pleasure in a life of meaning. Reach out to us any time online or at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 for additional tips and to find out about our personalized in-home care for older adults in St. Louis.