Who says the second half of your life can’t be the best half?
As you begin to think about what your life might look like after the age of 55, you should dream big.
Life after 55 is full of your passions, preferences, and interests. It’s never too early — or too late — to adopt habits and practices that enhance your well-being and cultivate a meaningful, enjoyable life.
Living your best life doesn’t have to be complicated! Your well-being and what makes up a meaningful, enjoyable life are unique to you, meaning that your definition is the only one that matters as you look toward your future. If you are looking for some tips on living your best life and active aging, we are here to support you as you shape your future.
The 5 Pillars of a Balanced Life
Of course, living your best life means living your best life, and not the best life of your neighbors or coworkers. You already know the habits that work for you, but what if a few adjustments could make a big difference?
If you’re looking for ways to enhance your well-being or improve your current lifestyle, you might find that understanding what makes up a healthy life can point you in the right direction. Use these pillars of a balanced life to examine your current choices and see what is working and what you might want to adjust moving into the future: staying social, focusing on convenience, getting involved with your community, learning a new definition of well-being, and enjoying peace of mind.
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One of the first pillars of enhancing your well-being will likely come as no surprise — connecting with friends.
Your social life plays a crucial role in your overall well-being, so making an effort to create new friendships and foster existing ones can pay off with better physical, mental, and emotional health. Plus, catching up with a friend over coffee or sharing a laugh over a phone call isn’t just good for healthy aging — it’s also fun!
Although studies about socialization and healthy aging have only begun to surface in the past decade, the research is already resoundingly clear — connecting with others is an essential piece of the well-being puzzle.
The National Institute on Aging reports that the risk of social isolation and loneliness increases as we age and can lead to various health complications, including rapid cognitive decline, depression, and heart disease. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that social isolation is a serious public health concern, with nearly one-third of adults over 45 reporting that they feel lonely.
But perhaps the most concerning part of isolation and loneliness is that it can creep in quickly, especially as we lose touch with coworkers and friends.
Why Socialization Can Be Challenging
When you think about your social calendar and friendships, you might be satisfied with the connections you have cultivated. And that’s great! However, being aware of common barriers to socialization can empower you to continue seeking out connections.
Smaller social circle
It is natural for social circles to shrink throughout our lifetimes. Colleagues retire, favorite neighbors move away, and friendships end. If you feel like your social circle is smaller than it used to be, don’t worry. A study from the American Psychological Association shows that people over 60 tend to focus on quality over quantity in their social relationships.
Less interaction with coworkers
Even if you are not planning to retire for quite some time, you might find it is more difficult to connect with colleagues in the break room or boardroom lately. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a work-from-home culture, meaning fewer friendships forged at work.
Reluctance to make new friends
The thought of getting to know new people can sound downright exhausting. For introverted personalities, connecting with new people and fostering relationships of trust can seem more difficult the older we become.
Struggles with meeting people
Finally, adults may not know where to find people who share similar interests. This can make meeting new friends challenging.
If you are struggling to find relationships that feel supportive and encouraging, you aren’t alone. It can be difficult to expand your social circle, but it is certainly not impossible. Remember, it’s about quality and not quantity. Here are a few ways to connect with new people in your community:
- Find a group on Meetup that shares your interests.
- Rekindle friendships with those you may have lost touch with over the years.
- Become a mentor for a young professional in your office.
- Create a standing social meeting at your office for interested professionals.
- Consider senior living, where communities are designed to enhance social interaction between residents.
Focusing on Convenience
Convenience can be good for you! Just like you are more likely to grab a big salad for lunch if you don’t have to do all the prep work, you are more likely to take an early morning walk if you know a friend is waiting for you.
Senior living communities have perfected the art of making wellness more convenient. These communities give you the chance to meet your well-being goals by simply taking advantage of the amenities offered on campus.
Of course, all senior living communities are unique. However, most communities offer common amenities designed to enhance well-being and active aging, including:
- Walking trails, where you can get your steps in while enjoying the sounds of nature (or the conversation of a good friend).
- Dining options that give you the ability to enjoy a healthy and delicious meal, even on your busiest days.
- Ongoing education opportunities that empower you as a lifelong learner.
- Cultural and creative programs that help you meet new friends and have fun, such as live concerts in the courtyard or pottery in an art workshop.
- Fitness centers and pools, where you can take classes, work out on your own, or simply enjoy the water with friends and family.
- On-site therapy services that make balance sessions or prescribed outpatient visits even easier to attend.
- Opportunities to engage with your spirituality at a place of worship on campus or a short distance from home.
Getting Involved in Your Community
Today, turning 65 doesn’t mean you have to retire. In fact, more and more adults are working after retirement than what was typical in the past. However, if you are working part time, consulting for just a few clients, or simply finding more time in your days than when you were younger, you might want to find new ways to impact the community around you.
Volunteering or becoming involved in your community can not only positively affect your neighbors, but also your well-being. Mayo Clinic recently reported that adults benefit in multiple ways when volunteering for their favorite organizations. Volunteering can improve physical health, lead to lower rates of depression and anxiety, and expand social circles.
Volunteering is even more convenient when you live in a senior living community. You can often find ways to volunteer your time and talents both inside and outside the community.
Volunteering in Your Senior Living Community
In WesleyLife Communities for Healthy Living, residents take an active role in how the community operates. Thanks to volunteers who lead and attend Resident Councils and other on-campus committees, WesleyLife team members learn from residents and make adjustments to meet their needs. Residents also have the unique opportunity to rally together and make a massive impact on the wider community. For example, residents of Edgewater — a WesleyLife community in West Des Moines — banded together and donated nearly $20,000 to Hurricane Dorian relief funds.
Volunteering Outside of Your Senior Living Community
Of course, there are plenty of ways to volunteer your time and talents outside of a senior living community. Here are a few ideas that might inspire you:
- Serve at a local polling place
- Participate in Meals on Wheels deliveries
- Tutor at a local library
- Read to classes at a local school
- Volunteer while traveling to new places
- Join a conservation organization that maintains local hiking or biking trails
You can volunteer for your favorite nonprofit organizations, or you can use a site like VolunteerMatch to find opportunities by city or ZIP code.
Learning a New Definition of Well-Being
Living your best life means finding a more balanced definition of health and wellness that is backed by research. WesleyLife’s WellAhead program is designed to foster this balanced outlook on well-being and active aging based on principles linked with longevity.
When you shift your perspective to see your habits through the lens of these four principles, you can make adjustments to your routine and incorporate more balance into your life.
Incorporating movement into your day can help you live a long, healthy life. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous or follow a rigid routine to make a difference!
Try this: Take a short walk around the neighborhood, catch up on your favorite TV show while on the treadmill, or dance around your kitchen while making dinner.
Have the Right Outlook
Connecting with a greater purpose and having a reason to wake up in the morning will add meaning and longevity to your life.
Try this: Mentor a young professional at work, volunteer at your favorite organization, or begin writing that novel.
Adding colorful fruits, vegetables, and grains into your diet is a delicious and nutritious way to fuel your body.
Try this: Buy a new cookbook, schedule a consultation with a dietician, or take a cooking class to learn how to create healthy dishes that please your palate.
Fostering relationships with friends and neighbors can boost your well-being.
Try this: Nurture your current friendships and expand your social circle with some of the ideas listed in this guide.
Enjoying Peace of Mind
Finally, you can breathe a deep sigh of relief as you find new ways to enrich your life after 55.
At WesleyLife, our Communities for Healthy Living feature more than just independent living. They also have a variety of care options available for residents if needed. Our levels of living include:
- Assisted Living: Ideal for the adult who needs a helping hand with their daily care or who would benefit from the peace of mind of knowing a caregiver is available around the clock.
- Memory Support: Designed specifically for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, memory support provides residents opportunities to participate in enriching activities, socialize, and enjoy familiar routines.
- Short-Term Rehabilitation: Following a qualifying hospital stay, short-term rehabilitation provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy to help bridge the gap between hospital and home.
- Long-Term Care: Long-term care is ideal for adults living with complex pain or chronic conditions that require around-theclock oversight.
Say Hello to WesleyLife
Living your best life means finding the support you need to meet your goals and benefiting from a new or enhanced lifestyle. For 75 years, WesleyLife has found new ways to encourage and support adults. We love creating transformative experiences that enhance the well-being of everyone we serve.
Find a WesleyLife community or service near you to learn more about how we can cheer you on as you live your best life.