Activism, a New Purpose in Life After Retirement

Some people tend to feel a little lost when their children leave home or when they retire. One option is to take up activism, which allows them to continue to contribute to society. This way, they don't lose the initiatives and reinforcements involved in having a routine and responsibilities.
Activism, a New Purpose in Life After Retirement

Last update: 04 June, 2021

Nowadays, many people think that having a purpose in life is like having some kind of magic medicine that allows them to live a better, happier, and healthier life. They can do so through activism.

Activism unites people through healthy actions. In fact, data suggests that living purposefully acts as an extremely powerful medicine. This idea has gained such strength that the organization Purposeful Aging Los Angeles was founded.

The idea is based on the fact that activism and adulthood go hand in hand, in the same way as health and well-being. As people get older, their lives change. They enter new cycles and, often, lose track of their purpose in life. Jobs end with retirement, children leave home, and they’re forced to reorganize their daily routines.

For years, science has suggested that there are many positive aspects to living life with a sense of purpose greater than oneself. In fact, these kinds of people live longer, sleep better, have healthier hearts, and improve their cognitive skills.

An elderly couple walking.

Defining purpose

The truth is that no one purpose is better than another. Indeed, purposes can be as different as people are. Furthermore, a purpose in life doesn’t simply come down to personal aspirations or plans.

Having a purpose in life means having a common thread. In other words, a sense of direction in which people can develop the things they believe in. Consequently, they find a life purpose. This might change over time.

Activism in the elderly

When older adults find a purpose in life in activism, their lives begin to be filled with challenges, rewards, and efforts towards a greater cause. These could be in areas as diverse as animal rescue or the fight for renewable energy.

The key is to find a kind of activism they can identify with, where they feel useful fighting for their ideals. In fact, they need to feel it represents them so strongly that they actually feel motivated to leave their home and go work within that group.

A second life

Until quite recently, people entered the third stage of their lives having to adjust to a lack of the purpose they’d had in their younger days. For example, when they were studying, developing a career, getting married, and raising a family.

However, nowadays, society offers new purposes in later life. Furthermore, older people are able to carry out these purposes with the same strength and enthusiasm as those earlier in their lives.

Life expectancy today is much higher. In addition, health resources are better. This means the key questions for older people become “What shall we do with so much life still ahead of us?” or “What can we do to make sure we age well?”

A woman with her arms outstretched.

Living space and activism

Gerontologists claim that living space consists of the distance a person travels from bed to another point in a given time. For this reason, bigger living spaces are correlated with a better quality of aging. Similarly, people with a life purpose through activism also have a larger living space because they go out more.

The truth is that when a person knows they’ve got to get out of bed to go and help in the soup kitchen or answer the phone for the local association against gender violence, their daily routines start to extend beyond pajamas, slippers, and the ailments of old age.

The next adventure

When people face biological aging with a life purpose through activism, they maintain an interest in the environment and their ability to influence it. While the years have made them wiser, slower, and a little more absent-minded, they’re still able to contribute to society and be appreciated for their efforts.

Activism at any age makes people healthier, richer, and wiser. Many people start planning early for the causes they’ll get involved in when they have this extra time on their hands. It gives them the feeling of a real sense of continuity. Furthermore, they’re able to build something that goes beyond just retirement and family.

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