How to Help Seniors Find Purpose and Meaning in Life

Our middle years are busy with careers, kids, travel, and socializing, and it seems like there’s always something going on. But life tends to slow down after retirement, and for many seniors, it can lose its luster when they no longer have a specific, definable purpose in life.

Research shows that having a sense of purpose is associated with a higher quality of life, a keener sense of wellbeing, and even better physical and mental health. So how can you help an aging loved one find purpose in life again? These tips can help.

1. Engage in enjoyable activities.
Purpose can be found in the things you enjoy doing, the things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning. Help your aging loved one identify and engage in activities that he or she enjoys, from gardening to gaming or baking to ballroom dancing.

2. Create.
A fundamental aspect of being human is our ability and need to create things, which can bring an important sense of purpose and meaning. Encourage your loved one to get creative with arts, crafts, music, or writing.

3. Develop a daily practice.
Having an important daily practice, such as meditation, yoga, walking, volunteering, playing an instrument, or writing in a journal can produce a sense of purpose. Encourage your loved one to develop an engaging daily practice.

4. Learn new things.
Learning new things can make life feel more purposeful. Help your loved one identify inherent interests to explore or a new skill to learn. Workshops, classes, grassroots groups, and the Internet are all excellent resources for learning something new.

5. Join a group.
Engaging with others with similar interests can help bring a sense of purpose to life. Encourage your loved one to join–or start–a group for readers, writers, quilters, stargazers, bird watchers, bakers, or another special interest.

Seniors who have a sense of purpose enjoy life more and stay healthier longer. Finding purpose boils down to engaging with life and finding things to do that make you want to keep on keeping on, and helping seniors find purpose can dramatically improve their quality of life.