According to the Colorado Census, in the year 2030 (just 12 years from now), 1 in 4 residents in Douglas County will be over the age of 65. Most of those folks will be in their golden years, their after retirement season. Many are vibrant, smart and skillful and still have the desire to contribute to society or local community. Others can become closed off, isolated and less engaged as they may live alone and may have not connected with resources in the community. There are no senior “guidance counselors” when we retire. Exploring the next chapter of life can include an inward journey of exploring what is your sense of purpose.
There are many studies that look at this including a Journal of the American Medical Association psychiatry study showing that older adults with a higher sense of purpose tend to have a stronger hand grip and walking speed, which is a key indicator of the aging process. The study also showed that the more physically active and socially engaged an older adult stays (or becomes) they will be less susceptible to develop mild cognitive impairment, strokes, heart attacks, disabilities and even Alzheimer’s. Not only that, but the study subjects also slept better and followed a more healthy lifestyle overall.
Now the question is — how do we explore our own sense of purpose so that we may be better prepared for our next chapter?
Active seniors know how to keep the good times rolling with activities for the body, mind and spirit. No one type is more important than another. A full, vibrant, and independent life demands all three. Whether you are a healthy adult or in need of a little physical, mental or emotional “tune-up,” there are plenty of fun activities to suit your needs that can get you started on the road to rediscovering your sense of purpose. This does not happen overnight. It will take some trial and error. Have fun along the way to discovering some gifts and talents that have resurfaced and new skills that will challenge your mind and ignite your spirit!
Look at the many activities that are available to you in your community: Helping a neighbor with their garden or volunteering at the animal shelter, learning a new language or playing a trivia game with others on the subject of history. Playing music from the days of growing up and then having a conversation with others about what you may remember about your childhood, teen years or college years is another activity. Going to local art museums or cultural events in your town can be socially stimulating but also educational. Starting a small prayer group or Bible study can nurture your spiritual sense of purpose.
People with a higher sense of purpose find getting out of bed in the morning a joy. It just feels good to have a meaningful life as we age — at any age! Begin the journey of discovery with a friend, a neighbor, your spouse and invite the conversation to begin. Enjoy the journey!
Juliana Young is the business development manager for Home Care Assistance of Douglas County. For additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.HCADouglasCounty.com. This column is hosted by the Seniors’ Council of Douglas County. Please join us for our next meeting on Thursday, Oct. 4 at Legacy Village of Castle Pines, 535 Castle Pines Parkway, Castle Pines. Our presentation and community conversation will begin at 10:15 a.m. Juliana Young will be our guest speaker. For more information, go online to MyDougCoSeniorLife.com, email DCSeniorLife@douglas.co.us or call 303-663-7681.
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