As seniors age, they may begin to lose sight of their purpose or relevance in life. This is due in large part to the fact that life tends to slow down. We retire from our careers, our kids grow up and establish families of their own, we become less interested in or able to do things we once enjoyed. These changes can cause seniors to feel forgotten, worthless, or meaningless. However, a strong sense of purpose in life is directly tied to better health. And every senior has something they can contribute to this world. Let’s explore how seniors can find and maintain a sense of purpose as they age so they can enjoy life to the fullest.
What Is a Sense of Purpose
A sense of purpose refers to a general, stable feeling of well-being and satisfaction with yourself and your relationship with the world around you. It is a feeling that you’re doing something meaningful with your life instead of aimlessly passing the time. It can give intention to your actions and can help you prioritize your activities and set goals. Your sense of purpose is the inner drive that keeps you going when life gets tough.
The scope of each individual’s purpose can vary. Your sense of purpose can be very specific and personal, or it can be broader and related to the greater good. However, your purpose shouldn’t be the answer to the existential question “what is the purpose of life?” but rather the answer to “what is my purpose in life?”
Benefits of Strong Life Purpose
Having a purpose is often tied to more positive mental health. A sense of purpose can help seniors enjoy life and continue their daily activities with confidence. It can help eliminate monotony and reduce feelings of depression. It can help motivate seniors to set and achieve goals. But having a sense of purpose is also directly related to physical health. And here’s how:
- Improved brain function: Seniors with a sense of purpose have been shown to have reduced brain tissue damage. Dead brain tissue can increase the risk for dementia or even affect motor skills.
- Reduced stress: A sense of purpose can help individuals feel more confident as they navigate the challenges of everyday life, reducing stress and worry. Stress is linked to a number of health complications, including diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and more.
- Better sleep: Having a sense of purpose can help individuals sleep better at night. And good sleep boasts a number of health benefits like a strong immune system, better weight management, and more.
- More physical activity: Studies have shown that individuals who have a strong sense of purpose are also more likely to remain physically active than those who don’t. And remaining active is important as you age to help you maintain independence, reduce risk of health complications, and more.
These health benefits demonstrate the importance of having a sense of purpose as we get older. But that can be easier said than done. Let’s dive into some ways that seniors can find a sense of purpose.
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How to Find a Sense of Purpose
Finding a sense of purpose may be a challenge for some, and for others, it may come quite easily. The best way to get started is to try some different activities and see if they provide that inner satisfaction. Here are some ways that individuals of all ages can discover their sense of purpose.
Humans are naturally social beings, so relationships can bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment. These relationships can include those with family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. To help foster relationships, seniors can join social groups in person or online that include individuals with similar interests. By spending time with others, seniors can also avoid isolation.
Doing enjoyable activities can help you find purpose. That could include writing, reading, exercising, crafting, playing musical instruments — any activity that brings you joy. Making time for those activities in your life and savoring them can help you find a sense of purpose.
Many individuals feel fulfilled through work. After seniors age and retire, however, they may not think that the career chapter of their lives has closed. But there’s still plenty of work they can do. Seniors may be able to find work in libraries, grocery stores, retail shops, or restaurants. Consulting positions may be available as well depending on their expertise.
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Helping other people has been proven to boost happiness. Acts of service can be big or small. Seniors can open the door for someone, volunteer at a food bank, give a compliment to a stranger. By serving, seniors can give back to their community and discover a sense of purpose.
Learn new things
It’s a common misconception that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. We can learn things at any age! Seniors can learn new crafts, develop technology skills, learn a language, and more. By working on a new skill, a senior can feel productive while also keeping their mind sharp.
As seniors tackle the challenges that come with aging, know that Caring Senior Service is here to help. We can assist seniors who are no longer able to remain independent so they can remain at home. We can assist them with the activities we mentioned to help them find and maintain a sense of purpose and self-worth. For more information about the services we provide, contact a Caring team near you.