Over the course of our lives, we feel a sense of purpose and pride for a variety of reasons, but most of them have to do with helping others. Whether we are parenting children, caring for aging parents, serving in a professional role, or fulfilling a philanthropic mission, we feel good when we are actively engaged in doing good work out in the world.
As we get older, it can feel like our worlds become a lot smaller. Opportunities to feel productive and useful start to dwindle. Kids move out, parents pass on, and we retire. Piece by piece, whole areas of our life are reshaped in a way that can—if we’re not careful—lead to social isolation and loneliness.
Older adults who find themselves in this position are often at a much greater risk for a variety of serious mental and physical health issues, including anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.