What motivates 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 with living 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 in the world.
Remarkably, there is no word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. There is, instead, 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 seniors – and ourselves – stay involved with what ignites interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Below are a few great suggestions to get you started:
Nurture a sense of compassion for others. There is no shortage of suffering in this world, and there is something that each of us can do in some way to help lessen the struggles of someone else. Have a conversation with the older adults in your life about who or what touches their hearts in particular – mental health, homelessness, stray animals, single parents, veterans, etc. Turn that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make a direct impact.
Focus on family. With so many families living far away from one another, and even further separated recently as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, take steps 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 documenting your life story, and that of past generations, to share with children and grandchildren.
Redefine retirement. For an older adult who is already retired from one career, consider another. Is there an unfulfilled dream that might be investigated, for example, 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.
Make time to play. Purpose and meaning are found in lighthearted endeavors too! Hobbies, art, sports, travel, exploring nature, music, reading, and many other fun and engaging activities provide 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.”
The caregiving team at JFS Care is full of creative ideas to help older adults continue to enjoy a life of purpose and meaning. Contact us at (213) 383-2273 any time for additional tips and to find out more about our customized elder care from professional caregivers in Los Angeles, CA and surrounding areas. See our full service area.