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Why Having a Sense of Purpose is Important for Healthy Aging

Eating well-balanced meals and getting exercise every day are important ways to protect your health as you age. Equally important is your mental health. If you’re like many retirees, you may find settling comfortably into retirement takes a little time as you get acquainted with this latest and greatest version of yourself.

One area many seniors find challenging in retirement is achieving a sense of purpose. Without the day-to-day demands of a family or the regular responsibilities that come with maintaining a career or busy household, you may find yourself at a crossroads. The laid-back retirement lifestyle you were so eager to begin living may leave you wondering who you are and how you can infuse more meaning into your life.

Why Having a Sense of Purpose Matters

Living a life with purpose allows seniors to focus on the positive aspects of their life. Retirement comes with changes, and not all of them are welcome. A sense of purpose allows a person to celebrate what they can achieve and the abilities they still enjoy. This is especially true for seniors in the early stages of dementia, who may be frustrated by their symptoms but recognize their quality of life is closely tied to their ability to contribute to the world around them and engage with others in meaningful ways.

What constitutes a sense of purpose can vary greatly from one person to the next. For one, it may mean filling days with meaningful activities rather than wasting away the hours in front of the TV. Another may need tangible evidence, like a completed quilt or a thriving garden bed, to feel they’re living a life with purpose.

Having a sense of purpose isn’t just about filling idle time, though. Research shows a positive correlation between those who have a sense of purpose in life and stronger cognitive scores. Other research found seniors living purposefully displayed lower rates of physical decline than those who reported a lower sense of purpose. Studies have even shown older adults who feel their life has meaning have less evidence of dead brain tissue caused by blood flow blockages.

Regardless of how you define it, the evidence is clear that living with a sense of purpose doesn’t just boost your life satisfaction; it’s good for your health.

Ways to Boost Your Sense of Purpose

When you’re looking for ways to add more meaning to your life, the best place to start is by considering what matters most to you, including what makes you smile, hobbies that interest you and the times in your life when you’ve felt the proudest. Here are a few examples of activities that may help elevate your sense of purpose:

Give to others: Many seniors find volunteer work a rewarding way to bring purpose to their lives. Many senior living communities offer programs that connect eager residents with volunteer opportunities. Some options even take place within the community. One example is the Heritage Senior Living’s Heritage Hounds program, through which Memory Care residents make and package dog biscuits, which are donated to local animal shelters. Making these biscuits allows residents to engage with each other, while also fostering a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Learn something new: If there’s a subject you’ve always wanted to know more about or a skill you’ve always wanted to learn, retirement is the perfect time to expand your knowledge. Taking classes or picking up a new hobby gives you a way to feel productive while earning a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Record your life story: Whether you’re a writer who is considering penning a memoir or a talented scrapbooker, your loved ones will cherish the work you put into sharing your fondest memories, advice and insight on your life. In a similar vein, you might dedicate your time to uncovering your family history by researching your ancestry as far back as you can go.

Express your creativity: Letting your imagination and artistic sides shine can be a great source of pleasure and help you discover talents you didn’t even know you had. Creative expression takes many different forms, from classic artistry, crafting and woodworking to music, cooking and more. Dabble in as many as you wish until you find the fit that gives you the greatest satisfaction.

Nurture relationships: Maintaining your social connections as you age is an important way to protect yourself from the mental and physical health risks associated with loneliness. You may find  great purpose in spending quality time and creating memories with family and friends.

Live Where Celebrating Your Sense of Purpose is a Way of Life

At Heritage Senior Living, you can count on us to help you support you in every aspect of healthy aging. Our innovative programs and enriching activities promote engagement while enabling residents to discover a sense of purpose. Contact us to learn more about our communities across Wisconsin, where residents live their golden years to the fullest potential.