Finding Purpose in Your Golden Years
Having a purpose in life is important for every person, regardless of age. When we’re young, purpose is relatively effortless. Your primary purpose might change as the years go on—from succeeding in school, to growing in your professional life, to starting a family and raising your kids—but it’s something that is always there, providing a guiding light in your life.
For seniors, though, finding or feeling a purpose in life can be more difficult. Your kids are grown and maybe have kids of their own. Retirement age has come, leaving long hours to fill each day. The things that used to provide purpose in your life are either gone or have changed. Yet, the importance of having a purpose remains. There is plenty of research to suggest that having a sense of purpose in life helps offset health issues that are common among seniors—including Alzheimer’s, heart attack, and stroke. The question is, where can older adults find that sense of purpose?
One of the most important things you can do as you get older is to let go of your preconceived notions of what a “life purpose” can be. When we’re young, we tend to think of our purpose as a big, long-range concept. Purpose is informed by our career goals and ambitions. It’s informed by our plans for starting and raising families. It’s informed by the big, grand adventures we want to have in life.
“Purpose,” as we get older, doesn’t have to look like any of these sweeping plans. It can be found in smaller projects or little interactions: writing a memoir or family history, so that your grandkids or great grandkids learn from it; playing music with friends; teaching a favorite recipe to fellow residents at your senior living community. These ideas might seem a lot “smaller” than raising a family or going to work each day, but they can absolutely add up to a fulfilling and engaged life.