How to Nurture the Spirit During Retirement Years

Sunrise Senior Living  |  October 18, 2017

If you’ve felt a growing desire to explore your spiritual side as you’ve grown older, you’re not alone. According to a Gallup poll, more than 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 say that nurturing their spirit or being part of a religious organization is very important to them. Both of these practices can help older adults navigate their way through traumatic events.  

In honor of October’s designation as National Emotional Wellness Month, we’re sharing a few ideas for activities that keep the mind and spirit strong.

Creating an Emotional Wellness Plan

Attendees at the 1971 White House Conference on Aging came up with an official definition of spirituality. They described it as, “the basic value around which all other values are focused.” When the spirit is healthy, the mind can be peaceful and strong as well.

So what can older adults do to nurture and protect their emotional wellness?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Wellness activities: Quieting the mind can be difficult, especially during a health crisis or after the loss of a loved one. Activities known for their ability to calm and soothe the soul are meditation, walking, swimming, and yoga. For older adults, chair yoga can be a safe way to reap the rewards of yoga without the risk of injury. As with any new form of exercise, talk with your primary care physician before starting.
  • Self-expression: Finding nonverbal ways to express your feelings and struggles can also help your emotional health. Creative art classes, journaling, music, and even dancing are great avenues to consider. Many local libraries, community education programs, and senior centers offer classes for seniors at nominal fees.
  • Legacy: As we age, many of us find our thoughts turning to our legacy. How will we be remembered? What mark will we leave on the world? Will there be anyone left who knows the family’s history and traditions? Engaging in activities such as writing an autobiography or documenting the family’s genealogy can help answer these questions. A fun intergenerational way to memorialize your history and legacy is by creating a video with several generations of the family. Younger generations can ask questions about your life and the family’s traditions for you to answer. You can document and preserve the whole conversation on video.
  • Gardening: Connecting with nature is another activity known to have mental health benefits. Gardening has been shown to help even seniors with Alzheimer’s disease manage anxiety and lift the spirit. Additionally, garden activities can be adapted for seniors who have mobility issues or other health conditions that making digging in the dirt more challenging. Raised flower beds and container gardens are two to explore.
  • Volunteering: Finding meaning and purpose in life after you retire and the kids are grown and gone is important. And it’s something seniors often struggle with. Volunteering your time and talent on behalf of a charitable organization might be the solution. Research shows among the many benefits of volunteer work is a longer, healthier life. Your local United Way or Area Agency on Aging are two organizations that can likely help you connect with a volunteer opportunity near you.

Your Day, Your Way at Sunrise Senior Living

At Sunrise, we offer 8 Activity Programs designed to help every resident live with purpose. From strength training to book clubs, art programs and music, our life enrichment calendar offers a robust variety of daily options.

We’d like to extend an invitation to you and your senior loved one to participate in a program of your choice at your convenience. Call the Sunrise Senior Living community nearest you to make a reservation!

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