Why having a purpose is the key to positive aging

 

positive aging

Did you know the people of Okinawa are known to have the largest population of people who live to 100?  I read this in Dr James Rouse’s book, ‘Are you willing to show up and live your best life?’.

One reason for the Okinawans’ longevity is that they live by ‘Ikigai’ which means everyone has a reason for being – a reason to get up in the morning.

This week I was minding my grandson as usual and we had such a lovely day. I mind him every Wednesday and apart from doing fun things together I also put a load of washing on or something else to help out my daughter and her husband. It is no bother to me and as I was hanging out the washing I realised how good it felt. Yes, hanging out washing made me feel good, because I had a purpose and was making a difference to someone else’s life.

As we age it is easy to fall into a rut or if we are alone we can withdraw into ourselves.  Without a purpose to get up and going in the mornings life can become depressing and it is unhealthy for us – both mentally and physically.  I found that out when I retired!

We all look forward to retirement but it can sometimes come as a shock to some of us find that we no longer have purpose to our days.

I worked full time and didn’t really have many hobbies so when I retired I felt like I had been cut adrift and was just treading water waiting for something to happen.  That is when I decided to start a blog.  However there are so many things you can do to find purpose in your life.

I recently studied a short course through futurelearn.com  ‘Strategies for successful aging’ with the Trinity College of Dublin.   They discussed happiness and well being and the importance of having a worthwhile life.  I’ve included a paragraph from their lesson “Introuducing happiness and wellbeing” :

Increasingly, happiness, wellbeing and quality of life are seen as not just about feeling satisfied and happy, but also about having a purposeful life. This includes making a contribution to our family and community, and fulfilling our potential in terms of our own abilities and capacities.

My 90 year old mother-in-law lost her husband of 70 years last year and also suffered a painful attack of shingles. Once she was a lively and ‘spritely’ person but after the trauma and grief she suddenly started to decline. She had no purpose in her life and each day was just spent sitting and missing her husband.

It got to the point where she was hospitalised with a stomach bug as she had lost weight and was very depressed.

The last six weeks has seen her improve dramatically and she has made the decision to move into aged care. Being surrounded by people in hospital and the rehabilitation unit including daily trips to the gym and physio has brought her back to life.

She is laughing again and has crocheted 5 shawls for her great-granddaughters. Her days have purpose and connection with others, she doesn’t have time to dwell on the past.  Even her pain from shingles has become more bearable because her days are full of things to do.  I’m sure that when she moves to the aged care facility we will have to make an appointment to see her LOL:)

Positive aging

 

 

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38 thoughts on “Why having a purpose is the key to positive aging

  1. Gilly Maddison

    Yes – this is so accurate. It is like the kiss of death to not have a purpose but I see it happening all around me. Loneliness is the big killer in our society now since it became common for children to leave the area they grew up in to to to university. It’s rare that they return and so by the time parents are getting old, they are busy with careers and raising children of their own several hours drive away. It’s so important to develop good friendships that last into later life and be doing things with friends on a regular basis. A great post about a subject close to my heart.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Well I really felt it when I retired Gilly as after our travels I felt lost. I also saw it in my MIL and others I have met. We have to make our own lives as we can’t depend on children to always be there – as you pointed out. Thank you for your lovely comments and have a beautiful day. I hope you visit again xx

      Reply
  2. Leanne | crestingthehill

    It’s so true Sue – if you have nothing to look forward to, and nothing to get out of bed for in the morning, then life loses its lustre. I think that’s why working part-time still appeals to me – it breaks up my week and makes me fit all my other things into my free days – so I feel like I’m busy and productive – something we all need. And I’m so glad things are working out with your MIL x

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Yes my advice is to try to work part time as long as you can Leanne. It does bring some order to your life and connection with others. Have a great week and enjoy your time with your gorgeous grandbaby xxx

      Reply
  3. Marian aka The Juvenile Retiree

    It’s very easy to withdraw, especially for introverts.
    I spend more time with myself (thank goodness I like my own company!) now that I’m retired. I am a young retiree so still have my health. However, I’ve been searching for my purpose, and I have found other women within the blogging community who are also a little lost. We dedicated so much of our lives to work and family, not much to ourselves. So now that we can focus on ourselves, we are not sure where to go. Working on that now, it’ll take time and some trial & error.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      I love spending time with myself Marian but I also need to have some connection with others. It certainly is a common problem not just for women but also men when they retire. Feeling lost and not sure where to go in the future. thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day xx

      Reply
  4. b+ (Retire in Style Blog)

    You have it figured out! Anyday without a purpose is wasted in many ways. But we need to remember that “purpose” can be interpreted in many different ways. For me it is writing and in the summers, spending time with grandchildren. For another it is church work or, if health issue emerge, simply going for a walk. Things need to be done and many of those things are small and seemingly unimportant. Yet to the person doing them, they are the purpose for living.

    Thank you for the reminder.

    Barbara

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      I love all of your purposes for living. No matter how big or small as long as we feel our purpose that is the main thing. Thanks Barbara for visiting and hI hope you visit again. Have a beautiful day. x

      Reply
  5. ~ linda

    As I ‘sizzle to” 70!! I know this to be so very important. I was a teacher and now tutor the primary-aged child who is struggling or in need of enrichment. I love working with kids and have purpose. I also tend to my blog which keeps my mind and heart on task with God. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Oh I love that you are sizzling to 70 excellent!!! Working with children and helping them learn to think and explore our world is a wonderful purpose. Have a beautiful day Linda x

      Reply
  6. Jo

    Yes, you are so right, having a purpose is absolutely essential. I can remember my Mum saying to me that I shouldn’t feel guilty asking her to help me to do things when the kids were little because it was lovely to be needed. I get that now. #teamlovinlife

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      That is what I tell my daughter, Jo. I love helping to mind my grandson however I do set boundaries otherwise it is easy for either side to maybe take advantage. I want to have my freedom as well.

      Reply
  7. Kathy Marris

    So true Sue! I see a lot of people of my age lose their mojo because they no longer feel useful. We both have done something that we are passionate about and that is blogging and trying to inspire others. However a lot of people just stagnate and become bitter and even depressed. I’m really looking forward to being a grandmother someday and pitching in to help where needed. I’m also looking forward to keeping myself fit and active as I age with lots more travel adventures on the horizon. Now that alone is definitely giving me purpose! #TeamLovinLife

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Travelling is the perfect purpose in life Kathy! Planning trips and discovering new places and cultures is a wonderful way to experience life and retirement. Can I jump in your suitcase?

      Reply
  8. Life Images by Jill

    I so agree with what you say. I saw my Mum slip into depression and her world shrink despite what we tried to do for her – she let her physical ailments rule her life, and in the end her world reduced to her lounge chair, her crosswords and the tv. I am determined not to become like that. It is so important to keep active. Helping others actually gives us a boost too. Have a fabulous week.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Oh that is sad about your Mum, Jill. Unfortunately, it happens a lot and it really is up to the person to find something they enjoy. If they don’t want to try it is difficult to get them going.

      Reply
  9. Lyndall @ SeizeThe Day Project

    Thanks for this fabulous post! I do agree that having a purpose makes a big difference to one’s happiness. My Mum passed away last year after a long illness and being incapacitated. She’d completely lost her purpose in life and basically gave up. It was so sad to see but certainly a lesson in life for the rest of the family. #TeamLovinLife

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      I think when you have an illness or are incapacitated it is so difficult to keep positive. I know my MIL would have given up if we hadn’t looked at the aged care facility. Now she has put on weight and is happy and enjoying life. At this rate she should make her 100th birthday!

      Reply
  10. Grammy Dee

    Love this! You have such a great attitude and are so inspirational. Glad to know you my friend ♥ Thanks Sue from Grammy Dee, #WednesdayAIM #LinkUp #BlogParty, social media shared.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Oh how lovely of you to say Grammy Dee. I’m happy to have connected with you as well. It is great to chat with other like minded women and I’m loving your link ups as well. Have a beautiful day. xx

      Reply
  11. Tracey

    I believe this is absolutely true!! I’m thankful that my parents and my mother-in-law continue to thrive as they live out their current purpose in life, and pray that God will guide my husband and I as we “mature” to continue to have things we want to accomplish for Him!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Oh I love hearing stories such as your parents and MIL. It is wonderful to see them enjoying their life and feeling useful. That is what keeps us going I believe, being useful and feeling as though we are contributing in some way to the world. Have a lovely week. x

      Reply
  12. Teresa Kindred

    Great post and I so agree about attitude being everything! Wish everyone could find their purpose in life….I have a son that struggles with this. It’s so hard. Big hugs to you and hope you will come back and visit me again at NanaHood.com Now that I have found you I plan on subscribing!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Yes I know Teresa. It took my son quite a while to find something he enjoyed. We all find our way in our own time I suppose. I will definitely be subscribing and visiting NanaHood.com. Thanks for the link up. xx

      Reply
  13. Deborah

    You often hear about people retiring and becoming unwell soon after. I think something similar happened to relatives of mine. They had illness after illness when they retired and – really – they had little of interest in their lives at the time. They’d moved and so were without their usual support networks and they really didn’t ‘join’ new stuff after moving.

    I’m about to have a break from blogging and as I only work part-time it will be interesting to see how I cope with such a huge part of my life missing. #teamlovinlife

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      That will be a change for you Deborah and I will miss your blog posts. The main thing is to find something you enjoy doing and make sure you do it regularly to keep some spark and purpose in life. Good luck with the break!!!

      Reply
  14. Janet aka Middle Aged Mama

    Personally, I have no plans to retire as I am loving having my own business and working from home – it has so much flexibility and I love what I do! I do understand your feelings though about not having had time for hobbies before. I felt like that after I finished uni; I’d never had spare time before!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      If you have a job that you love and that fits your lifestyle that is the perfection combination! Good for you Janet!

      Reply
  15. Michele

    I love the story of your mother-in-law finding purpose through crocheting things for her family. I know my father lost his purpose in life when my mother died, and he was never really able to get interested or excited about anything in his life again. My husband is thinking of retiring, but I tell him often that he can’t retire until he has a plan for what he will do next. I have plenty of things which give my purpose, including my blog. I think having a purpose is VITAL!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Yes it certainly helped her and now that she is in an aged care facility, Michele, she has become so involved in life again it is wonderful to see. I didn’t have a plan when I retired and I certainly struggled for a while. Have a wonderful week Michele! xx

      Reply
  16. Marie|The Interior Frugalista

    Great post Sue! You see it so often the person who is active and has great social connections and continuing to live life to the fullest and then someone else of the same age who is isolated, struggling and looks bell beyond their biological age. Glad to hear your MIL is doing much better. I can’t imagine what that must be like being with someone for 70 years and having to live on without them. Good for her!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Yes it was a very bad year for my MIL last year but she is doing so well now. Having activities and company at the aged care facility has invigorated her again which is great to see. At this stage she could live until 100! So pleased you enjoyed the post Marie. Have a great day!

      Reply

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