Finding Inspiration in Retirement
As recently published in Healthy Cells Magazine.
By Allyson Nathan, Cadence Living for Inspira Arrowhead.
Everyone knows the secrets to a long and happy life: eat a healthy, balanced diet; get plenty of exercise; limit alcohol intake; don’t smoke and find helpful ways to deal with stress. But is that all it takes? If you believe there’s got to be more to it than that, you’re right. Research shows that enjoying your life is a significant contributor to healthy aging.
An eight-year study by the University College in London explored the relationship between a positive outlook and physical well-being. This study of 3,199 men and women aged 60 and older found that those who were happy and enjoyed life were more robust and fit, and less likely to develop problems with daily activities such as getting out of bed, dressing or bathing. People who were unhappy were three times more likely to struggle with physical activities and twice as likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, cancer and strokes.
In retirement, we have the opportunity to redefine what inspires us. The daily pursuit of inspiration is an important part of healthy aging. It gives us purpose at a time when many struggle to find it. A few tips for living an inspired life:
The Harvard Study of Adult Development showed that a strong sense of purpose in seniors had a protective effect. In particular, people who stayed in touch with family and friends stayed healthier in old age.
“How happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”
The study found that close relationships are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Those ties protect people from life’s challenges, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than class, intelligence or even our genes.
Frank McCourt and Laura Ingalls Wilder both began writing later in life. Grandma Moses began painting in earnest at 78. Many find their inspiration after being freed from the responsibilities of work and raising a family. Now is the time to begin writing your memoir, honing your painting skills, or learning to sing.
The natural world is filled with wonders. Whether you live in woodlands or the heart of the city, nature can delight and inspire. Take a walk, see the wild diversity of color and texture around you, listen to the sounds of wildlife. Begin a nature journal. Learn how to use your cell phone’s camera so you can share what you discover.
Pay it forward.
Now that you have time on your hands, why not share the wisdom you have acquired over several decades? Volunteering is a great way to stay connected and inspired. Senior Corps connects older adults with the organizations that need them most. Volunteers receive guidance and training so they can make a contribution that suits their talents and interests. Volunteer Match also helps seniors find rewarding positions. Or reach out to your favorite charity!
Laughing lowers the stress hormone cortisol. According to a 2014 Loma Linda University study, 20 minutes spent watching funny videos helped improve memory in seniors. Some research also shows a link between happiness and a lower risk of heart disease. So, laugh as much as you can because laughter really is the best medicine.
Choose a home that inspires.
Inspira Arrowhead is a community that puts inspiration at the center of life. It’s a place where people feel moved to do what they love, free from the chores and responsibilities of homeownership. By simplifying life, residents discover renewed energy to explore their creative side, indulge in travel, reconnect with friends and elevate their overall health, well-being and sense of humor. For many, it’s a chance to finally put themselves first.
Inspira Arrowhead offers a plethora of social, creative and wellness programs, many of which are available only through Cadence Senior Living communities. While Cadence communities–such as Inspira–offer scheduled programming, they also leave room for spontaneous fun: impromptu celebrations, cocktail parties by the pool and nights out on the town. From weekly live music to festive game nights, Inspira Arrowhead paves the way for fulfilling experiences and connection driven by residents’ needs and wishes.