wooden scrabble letters that spell out "purpose"

7 Ways Seniors Can Find Purpose in Retirement

Seniors can lose their sense of purpose whenever they transition to an assisted living home or retirement community. For the sake of mental and physical wellbeing, it’s important to reignite those feelings of purposefulness and meaning. 

That’s why Ivy Knoll’s independent retirement community in Northern Kentucky offers plenty of fun activities and programs for seniors to pick and choose from. We’re not the exception. Most independent living facilities host a calendar packed full of activities to choose from.

Why? 

Independent Living is Designed with Purpose in Mind

Retiring in an independent living senior home means getting access to some personal care medical services, and some limited assisted living services, while maintaining an active lifestyle, a stable sense of autonomy, and strong feelings of self-determination.  

These feelings are strongly connected to purpose or meaning. Every facet of an independent living community, from its slew of recreational activities to the open-concept floor plan layouts, is dedicated to giving elderly residents a better quality of life. 

Ivy Knoll Values a Meaningful, Quality Lifestyle 

Many seniors go through a trial and error process to figure out what’s important to them in this stage of life. That’s why we offer a wide span of programs and activities that are individual and group-oriented.

At Ivy Knoll, we know this. It’s why we offer a wide selection of programs and activities that emphasize three things the most: 

  • Purpose 
  • Community 
  • Fun — “not so senior, senior living” 

Family-based social events, get-togethers, activities, and community-based programs happen every single week. Participation is totally optional. Residents stay busy, active, and engaged with their choice of a passion project: gardening, cooking, sewing, or other creative pastimes. 

Independent Living Fosters a Vibrant Sense of Community

Research shows that social support plays a large role in positive senior health outcomes. It’s why so many independent living communities, including ours, offer communal areas where residents and their families can gather together and socialize. 

At Ivy Knoll, our communal areas include: 

  • Movie Theater/Multimedia room 
  • Library 
  • Exercise room 
  • Common/Lounge area 
  • Multi-denominational chapel 
  • Coffee Café area
  • Fine dining service area 
  • Vegetable garden 
  • Outdoor walking paths

Programs and Activities for Isolated Seniors 

There are some seniors who, either by choice or circumstance, live a more hermetic existence compared to other retirees. There are plenty of activities to help them stay active and purpose-driven too. 

Even with nobody around, or with limited mobility, there are activities you can do that enhance your quality of life. Ivy knoll residents enjoy a wide range of activities. 

Here are a few ideas of what to do on your own: 

  • Watch a movie 
  • Read a book 
  • Exercise while seated, using free weights or stretch bands
  • Virtually visit a museum

Here are some fun virtual museum tours to consider: 

Now that you know how independent living retirement communities can foster purpose, here are seven of the most important things you can do to ensure your golden years are fulfilling and meaningful. 

 

1. Maintain a Routine

red alarm clock on a light blue background

In nature, all animals seem to have a routine — though largely based on instinct. Humans aren’t so different. We all need some routine and repetition. Something to do and somewhere to go day in and day out. For retirees, this can be difficult. The obligations that once gave structure to your day are no longer there.

Without having to wake up Monday morning and commute to a job, or get children prepared for their school day, the days can simply float by, leaving many seniors rudderless and aimless. More structure and meaningful activity is the cure

There are plenty of activities that seniors can do to instill more structure — and thereby more purpose — into their days: 

  • Early morning gardening and planting
  • Learn a new language daily (15min each morning) 
  • Solve a Sudoku puzzle or some other game
  • Practice an instrument 
  • Exercise daily and commit to incrementally challenging yourself

It’s good to set up a daily routine that works for you, one that you can enjoy. At Ivy Knoll, independence is the key. Residents can structure their days in whichever way they prefer. You can choose from a long list of activities on the calendar, packed with activities and social get-togethers.

2. Set SMART Goals

napkin with a question written on it

Goals are just as important for seniors as they are for younger people. Setting goals and living a life with intention is part of having a purposeful, meaningful life. Be sure to set small, achievable, and realistic goals that align with your values (what you like to do).  

Your goals should be challenging — not stressful. Finding something to fix, improve upon or make better is part of setting a productive goal. Your goal could be to fix up a minor maintenance issue in your apartment or complete a gardening project. 

3. Physical Activity 

three seniors exercising with stretch band

Even a moderate amount of physical movement, either through gardening, walking, or playing catch with grandkids, helps to boost dopamine levels in the brain, uplifting the mood and staving off depression

For more information regarding senior exercise and healthy living, read our blog on the best exercise equipment for seniors

Choose an exercise regime that works for you (one you actually like). It can help improve mental health, decrease the risk of falls, prevent disease, and improve cognitive function. Ivy Knoll residents have plenty of exercise options to choose from, whether it’s group classes or individual exercise in our gym.  

You or your loved one can boost flexibility, balance, and strength with various different exercises

  • Climbing the stairs 
  • Walking or jogging 
  • Stretching 
  • Yoga 
  • Lifting light hand weights

4. Volunteering 

senior holding hands from volunteer

According to research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, those who volunteer or set aside time to help others experience more positive mental health outcomes — including an enhanced feeling of purpose and usefulness. 

Volunteering alleviates feelings of loneliness and isolation, mitigates depressive tendencies, and allows you to meet new people and connect with them. Not only that, it helps to promote lower blood pressure and psychological wellbeing. By volunteering, you’ll get to learn new skills, as you keep your mind engaged, vigorous, and youthful. 

5. Gratitude Journal

journal next to hot tea on a pastel background

As Socrates once said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This dictum is backed by modern medical research, reinforcing the link between journaling personal thoughts and feelings with mental health. 

The benefits of keeping a journal for seniors include being better able to: 

  • Deal with stress or anxiety 
  • Create more awareness 
  • Regulate emotions 
  • Reach out for help or socialize 

Self-reflection, in conjunction with gratitude and thankfulness, is a major contributor to finding meaning and purpose in one’s life. There are no hard and fast rules to doing it. Write about what you feel is important. 

Helpful tips on what to journal about: 

  • Identify what matters most to you and why it matters (what are your values?
  • Recognize your strengths and unique talents (what else can you contribute?)
  • Reflect on the best possible version of yourself (what could you be like?

6. Learn Something New 

senior woman in art class painting on canvas

Neurologists once suggested that our brains stop maturing or growing by our mid to late twenties. But landmark discoveries have shown that our brains never stop growing and adapting to new information. 

So whether you’re 50, 60, 80 or even 99 years old, lifelong learning can and should be a part of your everyday lifestyle. 

To be fully engaged and immersed in acquiring new information or knowledge on a subject has been linked with higher levels of purpose. The benefits don’t stop there; your overall quality of life is impacted by “learning to learn.”

Senior residents can enjoy the benefits: 

  • Retain mental alertness 
  • Slow the rate of cognitive decline
  • Boost of short-term memory 

7. Explore a New Hobby

elderly woman in yellow sweater watering plants

You’re never too old to start learning new things and exploring new hobbies or activities. Hobbies can help reduce stress, increase self-esteem, improve cognitive function and provide a more enriching spiritual life. 

Engaging in activities you never thought to try before, be it woodworking, painting, music, or gardening, you might even find some hidden talent you weren’t previously aware of. 

Hobbies can tie closely into goal setting, and provide senior citizens with a strong sense of accomplishment, effectiveness, and overall purpose. By having a hobby or two to focus on, you or a loved one won’t have as much idle time to sink into depressive or anxious thoughts. 

After all, you’re too busy living life to make mental commentary on it. 

Join Our Retirement Community in Northern Kentucky 

Ivy Knoll offers endless opportunities to make connections, find meaning and enjoy a care-free retirement lifestyle. Everything from your open-concept apartment, food, housekeeping, trash pickup, and medical assistance is paid for under a single monthly payment. Schedule a tour of your new home by calling (859) 491-3800