Positive Aging: Finding Fulfillment Later in Life

Retirement. What do you think of when you hear this word? Many people dream about it, believing it will be the best time of their lives. Finally, they will have all the time to relax, enjoy their free time and do absolutely nothing. But once you’ve reached that magical age and are entering the “golden years,” you may find that something's missing. 

“Feeling bored and unfulfilled is, surprisingly, common feeling for many seniors no matter where they are in their post-retirement journey,” says Sue Sunderland, Executive Director of The Bridges at Warwick, a supportive personal care community in Jamison, PA. That’s because, she says, many people make the mistake of thinking “pleasure” is the same as “fulfillment.”

“Obviously there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasures of retirement age,” she says. “You’ve worked hard and paid your dues, and now it’s your time! But when that first wave of euphoria goes away, many seniors report having this sense of being adrift and disconnected. That’s because pleasure comes from external sources and is short-lived, like a good massage or seeing a new movie. It’s fun, but not deeply satisfying. Fulfillment, on the other hand, stems from something deeper within you; something you’ve done or accomplished. It’s not always as fun as pleasure, but it’s rewarding and long-lasting.”

The Difference Between “Busy” and “Fulfilled”

Now, you may be thinking to yourself: My days are filled – in fact, I’m busier than ever now that I’m a senior! And that is normal! Later in life, you’re free of all those tedious chores and responsibilities you had when you were younger, especially if you move to a senior living community that provides maintenance-free living and a full social calendar. Staying busy plays an important role in helping seniors stay active, engaged and age well. 

However, the seniors who are happiest – really and truly – are the people whose days may not be filled to the brim but who are instead filling their time with what really matters to them. 

Think about some of the times when you were happiest in your life. Now, think about what it was that really inspired you and gave you purpose during those times. Was it contributing to a group and helping lead people to success? Was it teaching young minds and watching them grow? Was it caring for another living creature, or donating your time to a worthy cause? By getting to the root of what it was that really fulfilled you, you can take steps to find it now that you’re older. 

“You may find it’s easier than ever to find fulfillment later in life, because you have the time and resources to do so,” says Sue. 

Tip Tips for Finding Fulfillment Later in Life

Flip the script. Sure, you’ve entered your senior years. Sure, you may no longer be part of the workforce in the traditional sense. That doesn’t mean that you’ve been put out to pasture. Think of this as the “third act” of your life – as a beginning, not an ending – and start imagining what you can do to make a difference in your life or the lives of others. 

Make new friends. Staying social is not only fun, but it connects you to like-minded people (and also plays an important role in healthy aging). One way to do this is by joining groups and clubs that are centered around your interests, which will introduce you to potential new friends (and activities to boot).

Get out your planner. Is there an acquaintance you’d like to get to know better? A friend with whom you’ve fallen out of touch and you want to reconnect? Be bold and make it happen. Plan an event like a dinner party or a social hour and invite friends and potential friends. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others! Chances are, they may be wanting to get to know you better too. 

Prioritize your health. When you aren’t in good health, it’s harder to do the things that make life fulfilling. As a senior, being physically active and staying healthy are incredibly important, so be sure you’re visiting your doctor regularly, getting exercise and eating right. 

Volunteer. What causes do you believe in and what would you like to donate your time and efforts to? By volunteering, you’re not just giving back to your community – you’re giving yourself the gift of fulfillment. Volunteering also puts you in contact with new people, keeps you active and stimulates your cognitive abilities – all good things for your health.

Learn something new. You certainly can teach an old dog new tricks. These days, it’s easier than ever to take classes or simply learn a new hobby. You can do it from the privacy of your home thanks to YouTube and other online sources, or you can sign up for classes at your community college or center. Whatever you want to learn about, whatever you want to do … now’s the time to do it. 

Have a positive outlook. Instead of dwelling on the negatives of life, do your best to maintain and cultivate an attitude of positivity and gratefulness. Staying positive has many health benefits like reducing blood pressure and others, but it also helps you stay and act younger. They say that “age is an attitude,” and it’s completely true. Have you ever met someone who’s younger than you but acts like they’re decades older? Or the inverse – that centenarian who’s still got it going on? Being positive and curious about the world around you will inspire you and those you come in contact with. 

It’s never too late to find fulfillment in life, and these years are some of the best to find it. By moving to a supportive personal care community like The Bridges at Warwick, you can gain the support you need to live an autonomous, independent and active life – no matter how your health needs may change. 

For more information about our senior living community, contact our staff at The Bridges at Warwick.

Activity. Friendship. Support. Convenience. Value.

You’ll find it all at The Bridges at Warwick, located in beautiful Bucks County, where everyday is a celebration of seniors. Our philosophy of “Celebrating Life” means that our residents enjoy a sense of purpose and contentment along with fun, personalized care and a focus on total well-being.

Our Personalized Supportive Care provides just the right amount of assistance to help you remain independent, along with life-enriching programs, services and amenities. Our exclusive Vista Transitional Living Program offers specialized programming our supportive care residents who have memory challenges but do not yet require a secure residence. For those whose memory loss is more advanced, we offer The Vista, our secure, comprehensive memory care residence.

In keeping with our founder Robert Basile’s personal philosophy, developed during his efforts to find quality senior living for his beloved father, senior adults remain our passion. We fill our residents’ lives with countless opportunities to engage with both new and treasured friends; events and programs to enjoy with family members and loved ones; as well as innovative and creative activities that foster engagement. Our dedication to total wellness – for mind, body and spirit – is woven into our culture every day.

Contact us today or call 215.269.7745 for more information or to arrange a personal tour.

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