Many seniors go through a period of time where they are in search of new meaning and purpose. While this may be a struggle for some, it is crucial for happiness in older adults.
There are several reasons why the sense of meaning and purpose can often be lost or more difficult to maintain as we age:
You begin slowing down.
All your children have left the house (empty-nest syndrome).
You have already accomplished major goals in life.
You have been diagnosed with disease or disability.
But regardless of age or physical condition, the combination of your skills, experience, and knowledge will always be a valuable contribution to society and the community.
There is no single way to find and maintain your sense of purpose, as each person will find different activities and aspects of life meaningful. The key is to experiment to figure out what works best for you. Below are six ways you can get started.
1. Healthy Habits
Staying healthy and feeling your best is important at any age—especially when remaining independent is a high priority.
As we grow older, we experience a wide range of life changes such as career transitions and retirement, the loss of loved ones, and especially physical and health challenges. Not much will be accomplished if you lack energy and strength.
How we handle and grow from these changes is a key to healthy aging and maintaining purpose and meaning. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track:
Some older adults find continuous employment even after retirement. It’s a source of independence and pride for them. Others even use retirement as an opportunity to try out a second career.
If you aren’t enjoying retirement, consider seeking out a part-time job in your industry, try something brand new or find volunteer opportunities in your community.
Think of what brings joy into your life:
If like to garden, consider picking up a part-time job at your local gardening center.
If your favorite café is hiring, consider helping out there for a few hours a week.
If you enjoy the company of animals, consider volunteering at your local humane society or become a dog-walker in your neighborhood.
If you are interested in giving back to your community, consider volunteering at your local food pantries, retirement homes, or libraries.
If you are religious, check out the volunteer opportunities with your church.
If you want to help the environment, see what national parks near you have to offer.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Becoming more aware and present in the moment can bring a great deal of meaning to your life. It may teach you more about yourself, your habits and feelings—which can help you begin establishing a sense of purpose in your life.
Mindfulness can increase happiness and help you better cope with negative emotions. It can give you an overall positive outlook that will make you see your life as more meaningful.
One of the best ways to practice mindfulness is through meditation, which can result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being. If meditation isn’t for you, here are other ways you can practice mindfulness:
Pay attention. Take the time to experience your surroundings with all of your senses—touch, sound, sight, smell and taste.
Live in the moment. Intentionally bring an open and accepting attention to everything you do.
Accept yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love.
Focus on your breathing. When you have negative thoughts, focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help.
4. Daily Routine
Incorporating a routine into your everyday life can add structure and a natural flow to your week. Allowing time to go by without doing anything can be a root cause to loss of meaning.
While experimenting with your day-to-day activities, try establishing a new daily practice as well. This would be something you can do each day to bring you a deeper sense of purpose, such as keeping a journal or reading a book.
The following three reasons are why having a daily routine is important for seniors:
Reduced stress and anxiety. A predictable routine reduces stress and anxiety because seniors know exactly what will be happening and when.
Increased feeling of safety and security. Having a routine allows you to plan your day, making you feel safe and stable.
Improve sleep. Having a daily routine can help you sleep better at night.
5. Learn New Things
Learning can be a meaningful experience for you. It will not only keep your mind sharp, but it will also keep your soul fulfilled and fuel the feeling of belonging.
Studies show learning new skills can make aging people's brains three decades younger in just six weeks.
We’re constantly learning throughout our lives and it shouldn’t be any different as we age. Many universities in Cleveland and surrounding Northeast Ohio offer free of discounted courses to local seniors, including dance, film and media arts, law, world languages and more.
6. Travel and Explore
Traveling can be a great form of meaningful experience. Travel keeps seniors active and provides more opportunities to move than staying at home.
It forces you to get out of your comfort zone and gives you the opportunity to experience new activities and cultures, and it opens our minds to new possibilities. Exploring the world brings meaningful experiences that could also offer a sense of purpose.
>>>Tip: Approach each trip with the goals to enrich your life’s purpose and multicultural knowledge.
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As you can see, there are several ways to maintain your sense of purpose as you age. Subscribe to our blog for more tips like this on how to live well, in addition to grief support and all other funeral resources you may need.
Considers it an honor as a Certified Celebrant to listen to life stories, and then design and conduct meaningful tributes. Cathy also trains celebrants nationally, equipping them to share those legacies in ways that comfort and enlighten. Honorably serving Busch families since 2004.