Planning to Enhance Life Purpose During Your Advanced Years

Planning to Enhance Life Purpose During Your Advanced Years

Life is rich when we have a purpose in our lives. Science is now proving just this, even though many wise AttributionLindaones have known this over past centuries. As we move into the second half of life, this means redefining so much of who we are. During our earlier years, meaning seems to be in life so naturally with our families and careers. When children are grown, careers have wound down, spouses may be gone, and we are not physically able to do the things that we used to be able to do.

I’ve spent some very rich time with my 83-year-old aunt, who just recently passed away. I was struck with how deeply she longed for the days when she was able to help others, and how she wondered why she was still here.

She had always been one to create fun experiences for her blind foster brother, Jack, and his good friend. Jack had been blind since birth, and his good buddy had mental challenges. They both lived in a hotel for seniors with low incomes. She would take them to their favorite hangouts for burgers and fries; go with them on excursions around the city, to her house in the foothills, or even shopping for the everyday things. This brought them such great joy. When Jack passed away, she continued to take his buddy to do things. She also would pick up her 94-year old sister to take her to her monthly reunion with her high school class. She continued to do many kindnesses for others. It was her joy in life.

Then the day came when she lost her driver’s license. She lived in the foothills of Colorado where there were no bus lines, stores, or even mailboxes close to her. She had vision problems from a stroke, and just couldn’t handle the drives to town anymore. She had lost her good buddy, her dog, just a few months before. She realized that she could not live there any more.

Along with these changes was the loss of purpose. Her husband had passed away over a decade earlier. There was seemingly no purpose outside of herself. Vision challenges and other physical problems dictated not being able to do her one-time hobby of woodcarving. Her decline happened very rapidly. She was gone at age 83 within seven months of her move from her beloved Colorado property and home.

Then there is her 94-year-old sister, my mother. Blessed with the same strong spirit as my aunt, she has found her way of continuing to live with purpose. She carries with her at all times some coins with an angel on theAngelCoinWordsm known as Angel Coins. She finds ways to give them to others wherever she goes. She gets such joy through this, as she sees the happy surprise on people’s faces. So often they tell her how this came at such a perfect time, when they needed encouragement or hope. This lightens up her life as well as the lives of others. She still volunteers – visiting the “old” people in an Alzheimer’s unit near her home, taking little gifts to them each month. She has told me that this helps her overcome the aches and pains and the loneliness that can often come come with advanced age. So, in what ways can those in the more advanced part of the second half of life find purpose, within the physical limitations that they may have? What ways can one on the elder end of the second half of life be a positive force in the lives of others or continue their creative endeavors?

Connect to Others and Move Beyond Yourself

  • Be interested in others. Talk with others of all ages, not just those of your age. Young people are fascinated with elders who have lived a life that was so different. Youth crave to know more about this. You need to start out with being interested in them. Have a curiosity about them, their aspirations, their families, etc. Encourage them. They might even be surprised to find out that you, too, had struggles in your youth, and that you made it through.
  • Think about how you can make the lives of others better. Give them a token call of encouragement; send them a magazine article that would be of interest, make a phone call, send a birthday, greeting or thank you card with a personal message. If someone is serving you in some way, such as in a restaurant or the dining room of your facility or as a housekeeper, be interested in that person and give him or her encouragement. No matter what your age or physical condition you can brighten the life of others.
  • Despite physical limitations, those who treasure their spiritual life can maintain great purpose in life. You can be conscious of saying prayers for others that you know, or even those you may hear about from the media or friends and acquaintances. Meditation and spiritual readings can help you keep connected, and maintain a greater sense of your purpose in being here.

Examine and Expand your Creative Hobbies

  • Keep up with your creative interests, and grow in your skills and your enjoyment of them. If you love to embroider, can you explore open-canvas work, cross-stitch, or some aspect that would make you expand your horizons?
  • Take any opportunity to share and teach your creative interest. Perhaps you could get together with others and share in the enjoyment and enrichment.
  • Be aware of your creative hobbies, and how your abilities and skills will change over time. For example, if your hobby is woodcarving, how would it be possible to maintain your pursuit of skills and involvement if you didn’t have steady hands or if you had vision challenges in your later years? If letting a character evolve out of the wood is what fascinates you, could you develop a similar skill in using some form of clay?
  • Are there other creative hobbies that would serve you better later in life that you could start to learn now? Something like watercolor painting, knitting, or writing that allow for changes in physical strength, space requirements, or money investment are some ideas to explore.

Develop changing ways of creating purpose as aspects of life change. The advanced years of your second half of life can truly be golden for yourself and anyone else that has the good fortune to be part of your purposeful life.

Author: Linda Marsolek, staff writer at Designing Brighter Tomorrows

© 2014 Designing Brighter Tomorrows, Inc.
This site is for information only, and is for your voluntary use at your own risk. See Terms of Use

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.