Most people tend to associate purpose in life with factors such as experience, wisdom, and maturity, all of which are found in old age. However, the truth of the matter is that there is still a considerable amount of people who feel less and less purposeful as they age. While maintaining high levels of purpose can be a daunting task for the senior citizens, various studies and publications have established that it is one of the defining features for overall health and longevity.
Although life changes such as retirement, illnesses, and loss of family members and friends tend to make seniors lose their sense of purpose, children and caregivers must help them find meaning in life.
Why Having a Sense of Purpose is Crucial for Seniors?
Old age can take a toll on senior’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. However, maintaining a sense of purpose in later years can positively impact your health. Let’s look at some of the reasons why maintaining a sense of purpose is essential.
Keeps Their Brain Active and Prevents Memory Loss
Waking up every day, wanting to achieve something substantial, can keep your mind charged and rejuvenated. Engaging in things that require the use of critical thinking and short-term memory can help senior’s brains stay stimulated. This can reduce the risk of them developing cognitive ailments such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, among others.
Lowers the Risks of Developing Heart
Having a sense of purpose also promotes a healthy lifestyle, which enhances the senior’s overall well-being. It also helps them to shun stressors and live a happy life that free of anger and depression. If you’re purposeful later in life, your risk of suffering from ailments such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular health issues will be lower. Working towards purposeful goals can also elevate the production of feel-good hormones (endorphins). These will, in turn, help you fight the stress hormones that are known to cause anxiety and high blood pressure, the leading factors that are known to affect the heart.
Slows Down Aging and Increase Longevity
Seniors with a sense of purpose tend to show improved physical function such as fast walking speed, firmer grip, and great body balance & control, which are the things that show how fast you’re aging. Having a purpose also makes seniors focus and start doing things that increase longevity, such as eating healthy, maintaining a social life, and exercising.
Now that we understand the real benefits of having a sense of purpose later in life, it is up to us to help our elderly loved ones find meaning in their lives, so that they can wake up every day ready to take any challenge their way head-on.
What can seniors do to help increase their sense of purpose?
1. Be Part of Enjoyable Activities
Nothing gives you a purpose than doing something that you enjoy. Try to encourage seniors to engage in things that can get them out of bed without any struggles. Depending on their existing condition, they can participate in gardening, painting, ballroom dancing, or even baking.
2. Staying Socially Active
One thing that is known for making seniors lose their sense of purpose is loneliness. When one gets older, you start detaching from your friends, families, and acquaintances. Although you might be living in different parts of the world with your children, you can find new meaning in life by being in touch. Seniors should be encouraged to spend their valuable time with their families and friends if they want to find life worth living. They can take the grandkids to the movies, lunch, or park or teach them some cooking lessons. They should also be invited to family events and be allowed to pass on some points of wisdom. Nothing beats the sense of meaning than the feeling that your loved ones need you.
3. Create New Things
The human ability to bring forth new things can bring a pivotal sense of purpose and meaning. Therefore, it would help if you encouraged seniors to unleash their creativity, whether in music, sports, arts, or writing. Also, please encourage them to use their skills to train others. If they’re yet to discover their creative side, you can ask them to try different things until they find what they are passionate about.
4. Change Your Routine
One thing that can make your life lose meaning is engaging in unfulfilling activity routinely. If you find out that a senior is not happy and motivated to do what they’ve been doing for weeks or months, it is time to alter their routine and create a pattern that brings satisfaction. Conversely, it is critical to ensure that they don’t stay without doing anything. Being part of new activities daily can unlock a more profound sense of purpose and meaning.
5. Explore and Travel
For those without physical and financial limitations, traveling and exploring can expand your mind and give your life a new meaning. If there are places in your bucket list that you’ve not visited, now is the best time. Make sure you explore different cultures, cuisines, music, and learn about various religions. All these meaningful experiences can broaden your horizon and enrich your inner life, thereby giving a new sense of purpose.
6. Cultivate the Curiosity to Learn New Things
Have you been planning to learn a new skill or educate yourself about a given item? You’re never too old to learn something new. If you wake up every day with an urge to educate yourself, you’ll always find life worth living.
Sit down with the seniors, identify their areas of interest, and help them to explore or participate in such initiatives. You can help them enroll in classes, encourage them to join a group, buy them books, or even show them how to access learning resources from the internet. Constant improvement through learning can give seniors a purpose and see their quality of life improve dramatically.