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Finding Purpose During Your Senior Years to Get the Most Out of Retirement

Purpose is something that drives all of us throughout our lives. When we’re young, our purpose is finding our place in the world and shaping the direction of our lives. In middle age, our purpose can be composed of a variety of things, such as being a good parent, building a career, being a spouse and partner. As we enter retirement and throughout our senior years, that need for purpose doesn’t go away. In fact, it can become more important than ever, says Kristine Tilton, Executive Director of Waterstone at Wellesley.

“Recent studies have shown that living with a sense of purpose has many benefits for your physical, emotional and mental health,” she says. “In fact, feeling like you have a purpose decreases your chance of premature death, promotes happiness, builds a sense of well-being and alleviates loneliness. In other words, having a purpose helps you age well throughout your senior years.”

Kristine says that retirement is one of the best times to find your purpose, because now you actually have the time to pursue your passions. “Throughout most of our lives, we’re focused on our responsibilities, whether that’s our career, being a good parent or taking care of a household,” she says. “In retirement, you finally have the opportunity to focus on you and the other things that inspire you.”

You can find purpose in just about anything – in fact, it doesn’t really matter what your purpose is, as long as you have one. To help you discover what might be your purpose – or purposes – in retirement, we’ve outlined a few things to think about. Remember, your purpose can be a shifting and evolving thing that you continually refine as you discover what it is that truly moves you.

Purpose through … work.

Many people dream of retirement as a time when they never have to work again. However, a surprising number of older adults end up returning to the workforce after retirement. The difference between working before retirement and after retirement is generally personal motivation: the chance to work in a field or for something that motivates you.

While some seniors choose to continue the same work they did throughout their career, others take this opportunity to launch new businesses or enter different careers based on their interest and passions. Others choose to volunteer their time to worthy causes – it’s still work, even if you aren’t being paid for it in money. Perhaps you were a banker who now wants to go into carpentry. Or you’re a marketer who now wants to be an author. Finding meaning through working is an excellent way to find your purpose in retirement.

Purpose through … personal relationships.

Finding meaning in life through love and friendships is a wonderful purpose. Many older adults spend this time in their life forming meaningful friendships with their peers and others who share similar interests. Others also spend this time to deepen their relationships with their spouses, children, grandchildren and lifelong friends. Having strong social connections helps reduce anxiety, depression, stress and can even lessen your risk of diseases like dementia, diabetes and hypertension.

Purpose through … the small joys of life.

Purpose doesn’t have to be something high and lofty. In fact, learning how to enjoy the small pleasures of life and living in the moment is a great habit to cultivate. That’s the basis of the practice of meditation and gratitude. Taking time each day to count your blessings can boost happiness and improve your mental and emotional health. Being in the present provides a variety of health benefits, too, such as reducing stress and anxiety, improving self-worth and clearing one’s mind. Too often, we can focus on the negative things in life and get lost in our thoughts and worries. By practicing habits and techniques that allow you to live in the moment, focus on the good in life and appreciate the small things, you’ll be happier and healthier. In an indirect way, recognizing the small things can make you a positive influence on others in your circle, inspiring them to live more like you. What better purpose is there than to help others live their best life?

Purpose through … staying healthy.

Many of us think of diet and exercise as something we have to do. But what if you flipped the script and made it, instead, your purpose? By eating well and staying physically active, you’ll stay strong and have the energy to do the things you love. For seniors, this also means you’re able to live independently for as long as possible – and that’s a pretty big purpose. Aging well means you’re able to do more, live longer and live better throughout your golden years.

Purpose through … creativity.

All humans are creative in some way, shape or form. Whether you’re a talented artist or make the world’s best pie crusts, all of us have something we do well that also fills us up creatively. Hobbies and passions such as travel, music, reading, culture, nature and art provide a sense of fulfillment that few things can. Using our creativity also allows us to become more empathetic and kinder, which in turn can make life more enjoyable (and also reduce symptoms of chronic pain).

Creativity also allows seniors to express their identity, share their thoughts and emotions, affirm their existence and – in other words – find purpose. Think of Grandma Moses, who didn’t start painting until she was in her 80s. Creativity isn’t limited to the young – in fact, older adults can be some of the most creative and inspiring individuals thanks to their life’s experience.

Purpose through … making the world a better place.

What kind of gifts would you like to leave to the world? Some choose to contribute to improving their communities or the world at large. Others take this philosophy and apply it to building a better future for their children and grandchildren by leaving some sort of legacy. Making the world a better place can be done in big, dramatic ways or in smaller ways, such as being the go-to person for home repair projects. There are an infinite number of ways to make the world a better place, and it’s unique to each individual. Find what is meaningful to you, and you’ve found your purpose.

“Our beautiful community is designed to give older adults the freedom and inspiration to find and live their purpose,” says Kristine. “By providing maintenance free living and variety of concierge services to make life more carefree, we give our residents the time and energy to pursue what they love! We encourage our residents to try something new every day to help them discover opportunities now and for the future.”

Beautiful Riverfront Community

Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities.

Celebrating Dynamic Living

Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.

Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors.

Confidence of Care

The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support is available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone.

For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at ​781-591-7113.