The Relationship Between Purpose and Seniors Living Longer

seniors living longer
Living longer is directly tied to how much purpose a senior feels in his or her day-to-day life.

What inspires you to get up out of bed each and every morning? The answer is different for every single one of us, of course, but there is one commonality: it may allow you to live longer. Scientific studies are showing us that having a sense of purpose is an integral factor in seniors living longer, something shown in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy on the planet.

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 passions and pastimes.

So how can we help older adults – and ourselves – stay involved with what ignites interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Below are a few inspiring ideas to allow you to get started:

Nurture a sense of compassion for other people. There is no shortage of suffering these days, and there’s something that all of us can do in some way to help ease the struggles of someone else. Have a conversation with the older adults in your life about what or who touches their hearts in particular – homelessness, mental health, stray animals, single parents, veterans, etc. Channel 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 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 phone call or video chat with a different member of the family every week to reconnect and get caught up on their lives. Work on documenting your life story, and that of past generations, to share with children and grandchildren.

Redefine retirement. For a senior who is already retired from one career, consider another. Is there an unfulfilled dream that might be explored, such as earning a degree in a different field of interest? Look into volunteer or part-time job opportunities offering the chance to learn something new while serving others.

Make time to play. Purpose and meaning can be found in lighthearted endeavors too! Sports, hobbies, art, travel, exploring nature, music, reading, and lots of other fun and engaging 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 creative ideas to help a senior continue to enjoy a life of purpose and meaning. Reach out to Serenity Home Care at 250-590-8098 for additional tips and to find out more about our customized private home care in Victoria, BC and surrounding communities.