“The purpose of life is to live it.”Eleanor Roosevelt
Purpose (noun) – “The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”
Having a sense of purpose, according to experts, is a defining characteristic of being human and a fundamental factor of living a fulfilling life. In fact, a lack of meaningfulness can affect mental well-being and may contribute to serious psychological illness.
Purposefulness is individual. Religion, career, partner and / or children all provide a sense of purpose, a reason to do something, for someone. Finding one’s own “purpose in life” can be a life-long journey for some, and as we move through our life stages we seek new purposes in order to gain fulfilment.
You may have heard of the loneliness, boredom or isolation that our elderly citizens are likely to experience. The reasons for this vary greatly: many seniors have retired and no longer gain a sense of fulfilment from their job, others are devoted parents whose children have all grown up, or there are those who, in losing their life-long companion, also lose their life purpose. With research published by Applied Psychology linking a stronger sense of purpose to longevity, the importance of having purpose has never been more evident.
This begs the question, how do we gain purpose in our later life and preserve mental health? This week we explore some ideas to maintain psychological health through purposefulness.
The act of giving can be extremely fulfilling and if you are fortunate enough to be able to donate your time or talents, consider volunteering at an organisation that interests you.
Country Womens Association of WA not only do brilliant work for our community, they also provide a fantastic support network and the opportunity to make new friends. Perth Childrens Hospital and Dogs’ Refuge Home are always keen for some additional helping hands. Or search one of the many volunteer opportunities on Go Volunteer.
At The Richardson, residents are encouraged to maintain as much independence as possible and are often seen assisting around our home. Residents regularly help with setting the table, lending a helping hand during special event gatherings, folding laundry or looking after our potted herbs and vegetables in the beautiful courtyard. These daily tasks enable the residents to contribute and consequently maintain purposefulness in their life.
Many retired citizens often have decades of work-experience behind them and with so much knowledge, any company would be honoured to have them on board. At The Richardson we encourage our residents to draw upon skills of years gone by, with ex-teachers and writers often lending their writing and editing talents to our seasonal newsletters.
Consider offering your expertise to a company looking for a helping hand. Look for an appropriate role on Seek Volunteer where you can search based on location and type of industry. For inspiration, watch how Robert De Niro handles an internship alongside Anne Hathaway in the Hollywood comedy The Intern.
Head to the club
Filling ones time with subjects of interest and socialising with new or established friends can be truly rewarding. Joining a club can not only make us feel part of something and provide us with an activity, case studies printed in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour have shown that socially active seniors tend to have lower incidence of health decline.
Residents at The Richardson have many different activities during the week on the lifestyle calendar based around interests. We have a singing group, gardening group, walking group and have recently introduced a French Language group.
Whether it’s a wine club, bowls or tennis club, book club or even your local Mens Shed, improve quality of life and find a suitable group near you.
It is never too late to embark on a journey of self-discovery. If you are one to ponder what “purpose” you might have on this earth or even the age-old question, “what is the meaning of life?” we recommend these great reads:
The Courage to be Disliked by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi
Finding Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
If you wish to speak to someone about your situation or that of a loved one, or would like to book a tour through The Richardson, please don’t hesitate to contact us on (08) 9381 2800 or book a tour online.