What inspires you to get up out of bed every day? The answer is different for every one of us, of course, however, there is one commonality: it may help you with living a longer life. Research is showing us that having a sense of purpose is an integral factor in longevity, something shown in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy on earth.

Remarkably, there is no word for our definition of “retirement” in the Japanese language. Instead, there is a concentration on maintaining purpose and meaning beyond a person’s working years and defining themselves according to their current pastimes and passions. 

So just how can we help older adults – and ourselves – stay involved in what ignites interest and makes a difference in the world around us? Here are some great suggestions to allow you to get started:

Nurture a sense of compassion for other people. There’s no shortage of suffering in this world, and there is something that all of us can do in some way to help lessen the struggles of someone else. Have a conversation with the seniors in your life about who or what touches their hearts the most – mental health, homelessness, stray animals, single parents, veterans, etc. Channel that compassion into action by brainstorming ways to make an impact.

Focus on family. With many families living at a distance from one another, and even further separated recently as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, make a plan to close the gaps and bring family members closer together. Plan a backyard family reunion or holiday gathering. Commit to a video chat or phone call with a different member of the family weekly to reconnect and catch up on their lives. Work on documenting your life story, and that of past generations, to share with future generations. 

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 employment opportunities that offer the chance to learn something new while serving others.  

Make time to play. Meaning and purpose can be found in lighthearted endeavors too! Hobbies, art, sports, music, travel, exploring nature, reading, and many other engaging and fun activities offer opportunities for self-expression and a more enjoyable life. Betye Saar, a 93-year-old artist, explains, “…the creative part of me is forever young.” 

Charter Home Health, a top-ranked Wayne home health agency, offers personalized in-home care services for older adults in the Greater Philadelphia area that can help. The caregiving team at Charter Home Health is full of creative strategies to help older adults continue to take pleasure in a life of purpose and meaning. Reach out to us online or at (215) 935-6321 any time for additional tips or to schedule a free, in-home consultation.  View our full Service Area.