The Role Of Purpose And Fulfillment In Healthy Aging
Maintaining health as we age is the dream of many people. Aging and living life fully until the end of days is something many people hope to achieve, as it means more time with loved ones and more life experience to enjoy. Being connected in close relationship with family members and maintaining a purpose in life may be one of the keys to feeling fulfilled in older age.
A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that older adults who had a life purpose, such as goals for the future, performed better on tests of grip strength and walking speed. These are two tests which measure the decline of physic ability and assess people’s risk for disability.
People who had a defined life purpose outperformed others on both of these tests. This demonstrates that there is a potential link between having a life purpose and optimal physical functioning. Authors of the study believe that having a life purpose is associated with taking a more proactive role in life and taking care of oneself.
How to Connect to Your Life Purpose
Throughout life it is possible to become disconnected with a higher opportunity or possibly for life. Sometimes when we have been through a lot, especially as an older and aged person, we may be discouraged if life isn’t what we hoped it would be at a certain point. It is always okay to feel the highs and lows of existence, and sometimes sadness and loneliness can be tools to show us what changes we need to make in our lives and how we can connect with ourselves and others.
When we build relationships with family and friends, we can often discover a life purpose that is greater than ourselves and will stay strong even though tough times. When we engage in relationships, we can often be reminded of the little joys in daily life that come through shared experiences.
Even people who experience loneliness from other people may find comfort and purpose in caring for pets or plants. Any way of connecting with people, the planet or pets can be considered a meaningful relationship. Some people prefer to be alone but also gain purpose from reading, writing, puzzles or other accomplishments and activities.
Enjoying Acts of Service
When we engage in activities, we show the mind and body an active lifestyle that nourishes us. Instead of succumbing to negative thinking and victimhood, we can take action to create a lifestyle that sustains us even in older age. As we age and lose some close friends and family, we may not have the same people around us to keep us company. In this instance, it is possible to make new connections.
Often, we need to go outside of our comfort zones, which can become easier or more difficult as we age. Older people care less about the opinions of others, have a good sense of self-identity, and can act confidently. On the other hand, older people may be less mobile, have less energy, or may lack certain resources.
Yet, there are many programs for older people to engage with one another and with younger people. Consider joining a group with young schoolchildren, acting as a mentor and guide to young people. Or take on a role wherever you live and offer support to others who are less active than yourself.
We can find healthy ways to age if we connect to purpose and fulfillment, which usually means connecting in service to something outside of ourselves. When we are engaged and excited about helping others, we can continue to age with purpose and grace.