A happy, thriving retirement is something people dream about for many years. We envision days filled with activities of our own choosing, such as sleeping in, traveling, and reconnecting with favorite hobbies from the past. But what happens a few months after you retire?

According to research, a lack of purpose can increase an older person’s risk for health conditions like heart disease and depression by as much as 40 percent. That’s a pretty compelling case for creating meaningful days after retiring.

Ways to Live a Purpose-Driven Retirement

What steps can you take to bring purpose to your life when you’ve left the working world behind and your children are grown and gone? Here are some ideas you might want to explore:

  • Volunteer: Lending your time and talent to a cause you believe in can make you feel more productive. Just knowing someone is counting on you can lead to more meaningful days. You can choose a full-time position or volunteer for just a few hours a week. Are children your passion? Or maybe you enjoy nature. Reach out to organizations that serve those groups to see if they need volunteers. Another way to connect with a nonprofit agency is to call your local United Way for advice or utilize a website, like VolunteerMatch.
  • Pursue hobbies: The days can be hectic when you are juggling raising a family with the demands of the working world. It can lead people to make their own hobbies and special interests a low priority. Once you’ve retired, reflect on what you loved as a child or young adult. Maybe you liked singing in your church choir or taking photos. Did you have dreams that time didn’t allow you to pursue, such as learning to speak a foreign language or play a musical instrument? Now is the time to prioritize these interests. Life enrichment programming is one of the most common reasons older adults choose to move to senior living communities like Heritage.
  • Stay active: Aging well requires prioritizing self-care. Committing to a well-balanced diet and staying hydrated are both important. So is exercising regularly and incorporating light weight training, stretching, and cardiovascular activity into your fitness routine. Also, getting 8 hours of quality sleep each night is essential. Talk with your primary care physician for more advice if you have questions.

Build a Relationship with a Primary Care Doctor You Trust

Finally, schedule a yearly appointment with your primary care physician. It’s the best way to keep a preventable medical crisis from disrupting your retirement dreams. If you feel as if your doctor isn’t willing to answer your questions or spend quality time with you, it may be a sign that they aren’t comfortable working with seniors. “4 Tips for Helping a Senior Find a Primary Care Doctor” is a good article to help you or an aging loved one with the search.