Fit & Fabulous 2017 Health & Wellness Mental Health Over 50s Lifestyle

Why having a purpose is the key to positive aging

February 22, 2017
positive aging


positive aging

Did you know the people of Okinawa are known to have the largest population of people who live to 100?  I read this in Dr James Rouse’s book, ‘Are you willing to show up and live your best life?’.

One reason for the Okinawans’ longevity is that they live by ‘Ikigai’ which means everyone has a reason for being – a reason to get up in the morning.

This week I was minding my grandson as usual and we had such a lovely day. I mind him every Wednesday and apart from doing fun things together I also put a load of washing on or something else to help out my daughter and her husband. It is no bother to me and as I was hanging out the washing I realised how good it felt. Yes, hanging out washing made me feel good, because I had a purpose and was making a difference to someone else’s life.

As we age it is easy to fall into a rut or if we are alone we can withdraw into ourselves.  Without a purpose to get up and going in the mornings life can become depressing and it is unhealthy for us – both mentally and physically.  I found that out when I retired!

We all look forward to retirement but it can sometimes come as a shock to some of us find that we no longer have purpose to our days.

I worked full time and didn’t really have many hobbies so when I retired I felt like I had been cut adrift and was just treading water waiting for something to happen.  That is when I decided to start a blog.  However there are so many things you can do to find purpose in your life.

I recently studied a short course through  ‘Strategies for successful aging’ with the Trinity College of Dublin.   They discussed happiness and well being and the importance of having a worthwhile life.  I’ve included a paragraph from their lesson “Introuducing happiness and wellbeing” :

Increasingly, happiness, wellbeing and quality of life are seen as not just about feeling satisfied and happy, but also about having a purposeful life. This includes making a contribution to our family and community, and fulfilling our potential in terms of our own abilities and capacities.

My 90 year old mother-in-law lost her husband of 70 years last year and also suffered a painful attack of shingles. Once she was a lively and ‘spritely’ person but after the trauma and grief she suddenly started to decline. She had no purpose in her life and each day was just spent sitting and missing her husband.

It got to the point where she was hospitalised with a stomach bug as she had lost weight and was very depressed.

The last six weeks has seen her improve dramatically and she has made the decision to move into aged care. Being surrounded by people in hospital and the rehabilitation unit including daily trips to the gym and physio has brought her back to life.

She is laughing again and has crocheted 5 shawls for her great-granddaughters. Her days have purpose and connection with others, she doesn’t have time to dwell on the past.  Even her pain from shingles has become more bearable because her days are full of things to do.  I’m sure that when she moves to the aged care facility we will have to make an appointment to see her LOL:)

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  • Reply Gilly Maddison February 22, 2017 at 17:44

    Yes – this is so accurate. It is like the kiss of death to not have a purpose but I see it happening all around me. Loneliness is the big killer in our society now since it became common for children to leave the area they grew up in to to to university. It’s rare that they return and so by the time parents are getting old, they are busy with careers and raising children of their own several hours drive away. It’s so important to develop good friendships that last into later life and be doing things with friends on a regular basis. A great post about a subject close to my heart.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 23, 2017 at 07:44

      Well I really felt it when I retired Gilly as after our travels I felt lost. I also saw it in my MIL and others I have met. We have to make our own lives as we can’t depend on children to always be there – as you pointed out. Thank you for your lovely comments and have a beautiful day. I hope you visit again xx

  • Reply Leanne | crestingthehill February 22, 2017 at 20:24

    It’s so true Sue – if you have nothing to look forward to, and nothing to get out of bed for in the morning, then life loses its lustre. I think that’s why working part-time still appeals to me – it breaks up my week and makes me fit all my other things into my free days – so I feel like I’m busy and productive – something we all need. And I’m so glad things are working out with your MIL x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 23, 2017 at 07:45

      Yes my advice is to try to work part time as long as you can Leanne. It does bring some order to your life and connection with others. Have a great week and enjoy your time with your gorgeous grandbaby xxx

  • Reply Marian aka The Juvenile Retiree February 23, 2017 at 01:05

    It’s very easy to withdraw, especially for introverts.
    I spend more time with myself (thank goodness I like my own company!) now that I’m retired. I am a young retiree so still have my health. However, I’ve been searching for my purpose, and I have found other women within the blogging community who are also a little lost. We dedicated so much of our lives to work and family, not much to ourselves. So now that we can focus on ourselves, we are not sure where to go. Working on that now, it’ll take time and some trial & error.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 23, 2017 at 07:46

      I love spending time with myself Marian but I also need to have some connection with others. It certainly is a common problem not just for women but also men when they retire. Feeling lost and not sure where to go in the future. thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day xx

  • Reply Anna R Palmer February 23, 2017 at 03:32

    I love her story…and that I learned the past tense of crochet.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 23, 2017 at 07:47

      thanks Anna! Have a beautiful day xx

  • Reply b+ (Retire in Style Blog) February 23, 2017 at 08:56

    You have it figured out! Anyday without a purpose is wasted in many ways. But we need to remember that “purpose” can be interpreted in many different ways. For me it is writing and in the summers, spending time with grandchildren. For another it is church work or, if health issue emerge, simply going for a walk. Things need to be done and many of those things are small and seemingly unimportant. Yet to the person doing them, they are the purpose for living.

    Thank you for the reminder.


    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 23, 2017 at 15:17

      I love all of your purposes for living. No matter how big or small as long as we feel our purpose that is the main thing. Thanks Barbara for visiting and hI hope you visit again. Have a beautiful day. x

  • Reply ~ linda February 23, 2017 at 11:08

    As I ‘sizzle to” 70!! I know this to be so very important. I was a teacher and now tutor the primary-aged child who is struggling or in need of enrichment. I love working with kids and have purpose. I also tend to my blog which keeps my mind and heart on task with God. Thanks.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 23, 2017 at 15:16

      Oh I love that you are sizzling to 70 excellent!!! Working with children and helping them learn to think and explore our world is a wonderful purpose. Have a beautiful day Linda x

  • Reply Jo February 23, 2017 at 16:18

    Yes, you are so right, having a purpose is absolutely essential. I can remember my Mum saying to me that I shouldn’t feel guilty asking her to help me to do things when the kids were little because it was lovely to be needed. I get that now. #teamlovinlife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 24, 2017 at 14:54

      That is what I tell my daughter, Jo. I love helping to mind my grandson however I do set boundaries otherwise it is easy for either side to maybe take advantage. I want to have my freedom as well.

  • Reply Kathy Marris February 23, 2017 at 17:54

    So true Sue! I see a lot of people of my age lose their mojo because they no longer feel useful. We both have done something that we are passionate about and that is blogging and trying to inspire others. However a lot of people just stagnate and become bitter and even depressed. I’m really looking forward to being a grandmother someday and pitching in to help where needed. I’m also looking forward to keeping myself fit and active as I age with lots more travel adventures on the horizon. Now that alone is definitely giving me purpose! #TeamLovinLife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 24, 2017 at 14:55

      Travelling is the perfect purpose in life Kathy! Planning trips and discovering new places and cultures is a wonderful way to experience life and retirement. Can I jump in your suitcase?

  • Reply Life Images by Jill February 23, 2017 at 18:15

    I so agree with what you say. I saw my Mum slip into depression and her world shrink despite what we tried to do for her – she let her physical ailments rule her life, and in the end her world reduced to her lounge chair, her crosswords and the tv. I am determined not to become like that. It is so important to keep active. Helping others actually gives us a boost too. Have a fabulous week.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 24, 2017 at 14:56

      Oh that is sad about your Mum, Jill. Unfortunately, it happens a lot and it really is up to the person to find something they enjoy. If they don’t want to try it is difficult to get them going.

  • Reply Lyndall @ SeizeThe Day Project February 23, 2017 at 19:20

    Thanks for this fabulous post! I do agree that having a purpose makes a big difference to one’s happiness. My Mum passed away last year after a long illness and being incapacitated. She’d completely lost her purpose in life and basically gave up. It was so sad to see but certainly a lesson in life for the rest of the family. #TeamLovinLife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 24, 2017 at 14:58

      I think when you have an illness or are incapacitated it is so difficult to keep positive. I know my MIL would have given up if we hadn’t looked at the aged care facility. Now she has put on weight and is happy and enjoying life. At this rate she should make her 100th birthday!

  • Reply Grammy Dee February 23, 2017 at 22:35

    Love this! You have such a great attitude and are so inspirational. Glad to know you my friend ♥ Thanks Sue from Grammy Dee, #WednesdayAIM #LinkUp #BlogParty, social media shared.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 24, 2017 at 14:58

      Oh how lovely of you to say Grammy Dee. I’m happy to have connected with you as well. It is great to chat with other like minded women and I’m loving your link ups as well. Have a beautiful day. xx

  • Reply Tracey February 24, 2017 at 00:06

    I believe this is absolutely true!! I’m thankful that my parents and my mother-in-law continue to thrive as they live out their current purpose in life, and pray that God will guide my husband and I as we “mature” to continue to have things we want to accomplish for Him!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 24, 2017 at 15:01

      Oh I love hearing stories such as your parents and MIL. It is wonderful to see them enjoying their life and feeling useful. That is what keeps us going I believe, being useful and feeling as though we are contributing in some way to the world. Have a lovely week. x

  • Reply Teresa Kindred February 24, 2017 at 02:45

    Great post and I so agree about attitude being everything! Wish everyone could find their purpose in life….I have a son that struggles with this. It’s so hard. Big hugs to you and hope you will come back and visit me again at Now that I have found you I plan on subscribing!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 24, 2017 at 15:00

      Yes I know Teresa. It took my son quite a while to find something he enjoyed. We all find our way in our own time I suppose. I will definitely be subscribing and visiting Thanks for the link up. xx

  • Reply Deborah February 24, 2017 at 08:25

    You often hear about people retiring and becoming unwell soon after. I think something similar happened to relatives of mine. They had illness after illness when they retired and – really – they had little of interest in their lives at the time. They’d moved and so were without their usual support networks and they really didn’t ‘join’ new stuff after moving.

    I’m about to have a break from blogging and as I only work part-time it will be interesting to see how I cope with such a huge part of my life missing. #teamlovinlife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 24, 2017 at 14:59

      That will be a change for you Deborah and I will miss your blog posts. The main thing is to find something you enjoy doing and make sure you do it regularly to keep some spark and purpose in life. Good luck with the break!!!

  • Reply Janet aka Middle Aged Mama February 24, 2017 at 10:21

    Personally, I have no plans to retire as I am loving having my own business and working from home – it has so much flexibility and I love what I do! I do understand your feelings though about not having had time for hobbies before. I felt like that after I finished uni; I’d never had spare time before!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 24, 2017 at 14:53

      If you have a job that you love and that fits your lifestyle that is the perfection combination! Good for you Janet!

  • Reply Michele February 25, 2017 at 04:11

    I love the story of your mother-in-law finding purpose through crocheting things for her family. I know my father lost his purpose in life when my mother died, and he was never really able to get interested or excited about anything in his life again. My husband is thinking of retiring, but I tell him often that he can’t retire until he has a plan for what he will do next. I have plenty of things which give my purpose, including my blog. I think having a purpose is VITAL!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 27, 2017 at 09:12

      Yes it certainly helped her and now that she is in an aged care facility, Michele, she has become so involved in life again it is wonderful to see. I didn’t have a plan when I retired and I certainly struggled for a while. Have a wonderful week Michele! xx

  • Reply Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit February 25, 2017 at 10:42

    Purpose is definitely the key!
    It’s what makes me jump out of bed with glee before dawn every day.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 27, 2017 at 09:11

      It is a great feeling isn’t Leanne? Have a fabulous week!

  • Reply Marie|The Interior Frugalista March 1, 2017 at 04:54

    Great post Sue! You see it so often the person who is active and has great social connections and continuing to live life to the fullest and then someone else of the same age who is isolated, struggling and looks bell beyond their biological age. Glad to hear your MIL is doing much better. I can’t imagine what that must be like being with someone for 70 years and having to live on without them. Good for her!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 1, 2017 at 11:44

      Yes it was a very bad year for my MIL last year but she is doing so well now. Having activities and company at the aged care facility has invigorated her again which is great to see. At this stage she could live until 100! So pleased you enjoyed the post Marie. Have a great day!

  • Reply Beth (GrannyBeth3) March 2, 2017 at 00:31

    It’s why I’ve retired three times. I can’t find purpose without work.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 2, 2017 at 13:52

      Yes I know how you feel Beth! It keeps us motivated. Have a great week!

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