What inspires you to get up out of bed each and every morning? The answer is different for everyone, of course, but there’s one commonality: it may help you to live longer. Scientific studies are showing us that having a sense of purpose is an integral aspect of longevity, something shown in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy in the world.
Remarkably, there is no word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. Instead, there is 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 older adults – and ourselves – stay involved with 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 each of us can do in some way to help lessen the struggles of somebody else. Have a conversation with the seniors in your life about what or who touches their hearts in particular – homelessness, mental health, stray animals, single parents, veterans, etc. Turn that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make an impact.
Prioritize family. With many families living at a distance from each other, and even further separated recently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, take steps to close the gaps and bring family members closer together. Plan a backyard family reunion or holiday gathering. Plan on a video chat or phone call with a different family member weekly to reconnect and catch 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 loved one who is already retired from one career, consider another. Is there an unfulfilled dream that could be investigated, for example, earning a degree in a different field of interest? Look into volunteer or part-time employment opportunities that provide the opportunity to learn something new while serving others.
Take time to play. Purpose and meaning can be found in lighthearted endeavors too! Hobbies, art, sports, music, travel, exploring nature, reading, and many other engaging and fun activities offer 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 innovative strategies to help older adults continue to take pleasure in a life filled with meaning and purpose. Give us a call any time or contact us online for additional tips and to get information on how we provide the kind of home care Niles and other Michigan communities prefer most. For more details on all of the areas we serve, please visit our Locations page.