Meaning and structure for older seniors at home: Filling time

When they first retire, many people love the freedom retirement brings in terms of being able to do what they want, when they want, how they want. Released from the constraints of the 9 to 5, many don’t plan very far ahead, let alone consider what exactly they are going do to for (potentially) the next 30+ years. Planning, which also involves routine, is viewed as somehow curtailing their freedom.

Structure and spontenaity

Those who build a structural routine into their retirement around keystone hobbies, travel and enjoyable activities still have the freedom to be spontaneous, but they also have a sense of purpose. They have a reason to get up each morning, even if it’s to have a tennis lesson, meet a buddy for a beer at lunchtime – or go for a walk in a new part of town.

They may also choose to use some of their time to “give something back” in terms of voluntary, charitable or community work.

Finding your sense of purpose

As we age, our ability to fill our days with endless activities inevitably diminishes, usually as our mobility decreases. However, that doesn’t need to include tearing down our daily routines or life patterns. Indeed, having some structure is crucial to a vital element of life beyond work and family – a sense of purpose.

Can money buy happiness (or at least a sense of purpose)?

In a new study researchers from Stanford University investigated a simple question worldwide: can money buy a sense of purpose?

The assumption is that wealthy people are happier, and the research pretty much bears that out. But (and it’s a big but):

“Meaning is a stronger predictor of happiness for people with low incomes than those with greater financial resources. In other words, people with more money may be happier, but people with less money view happiness as tied to a sense of meaning — the belief that their life has purpose, value, and direction.”

Furthermore, as lead researcher Jennifer Aaker says:

“Among low-income people, having a sense of meaning in one’s life is more closely associated with overall happiness.”

So, if we find ourselves on a lower income in old age, or unable to spend what we have doing what we want due to mobility or health issues, the secret to being happy may be to find more purpose in our lives.

Even our daily challenges might in themselves confer meaning, as Aaker suggests:

“It’s possible that financial constraints pose such practical and emotional strain that people are compelled to try to make sense of their situation … Having negative or challenging experiences and then being able to make sense of them is one route to experiencing life as meaningful.”

Home care and daily structure

Regular home care visits can help create both structure and meaning to older seniors who might feel they are drifting through life more than they wish to. It’s all too easy to define your routine by imposed events, such as medical appointments, or even by self-imposed “rules”, such as coffee at 10am, lunch at 12noon, nap at 2pm, etc. Instead, you want to build a structure that enables you, rather than restricts you.

For example, home care visits give you the certainty that a caregiver will arrive at a specific time to help you do what needs to be done. You might need a degree of personal care to get up and get dressed. Regular home care visits ensure that you DO get up, and that you start the day feeling ready to enjoy it.

With Vytality you have your own regular caregiver, so you know who will be helping you. We offer 2 hour time slots for care, so there is always time for them to do other jobs, such as light housekeeping, a load of laundry, or taking in the grocery delivery. There’s also time for the fun stuff – a chat, a game of chess, a friendly competition as to who can solve today’s Wordle (link) faster!

Purpose and structure combined

For many of our home care clients in Calgary, our visits give purpose and structure in themselves. A caregiver’s visit is an enjoyable highlight, a chance to talk about the national news, exercise the brain, or the opportunity to take exercise outside the home without worry. Often that simple sense of purpose for the day, of doing something beyond the necessary, makes people content and happy.

Outsource the big jobs

Our home care partners can also help by giving you more time to do what you want by taking on larger chores or jobs. Let’s face it, there comes a time in life when clearing snow is beyond us, even if we wanted to do it. By contracting out that work, you can free up time and precious energy to do something more enjoyable, more exciting and best of all, more meaningful to you. To discover more about our hand-picked, trusted partners, give us a call.

Home care in Calgary

For more details of our home care services for older seniors and those with disabilities:

539, 5940 Macleod Trail SWCalgary, AB