Everyone’s idea of happiness is different. Some of us are happier at the beach, while others prefer the mountains. Some enjoy having a large circle of friends, while others opt for a few close ones. When it comes to happy senior citizen living, however, a few factors seem to be important to everyone’s happiness. Based on several surveys and expert opinions, here are seven keys to happy senior living.
Not surprisingly, when seniors name one factor vital to their happiness in retirement, their overwhelming response is health—good health, of course. So, a healthy retirement requires nutritious eating, exercise and regular medical check-ups. You don’t want to be the one who someday subscribes to the popular adage, “If I had known I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
Having friends is essential to happiness for most retirees. “Spending time with people who really know you affords you the freedom to be yourself, which increases contentment,” according to David Niven, psychologist and author of The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People. A major benefit of retirement communities is that they offer residents many opportunities to make new friends and form lasting relationships.
Of course, having nurturing family relationships, particularly with adult children and grandchildren, is a great source of happiness for most seniors. Like friendships, they let us share our experiences with others who care about us. A Pew Research Center report, “Growing Old in America,” said that more than 90 percent of adults 65 and over have contact with one or more of their children at least once a week.
Caring for your health is part of smart financial planning—you can save money by lowering your risk of illness. Nevertheless, plan for unexpected health care expenses and understand your coverage by Medicare and private insurance. Your finances should match the way you plan to spend your retirement. A nest egg (401K or substantial savings account) and guaranteed income (e.g., annuity, pension, Social Security) will help ensure a financially secure retirement.
Most people are happiest with a balance of “down time” and “busy time.” A hectic schedule can leave you stressed and tired; a vacant calendar can leave you lonely and out of touch. Strive for a balance in your activities. Take time for enjoyment—pursue your hobbies, travel, attend concerts or sporting events—but leave yourself time to relax and “smell the roses,” as well.
One way to stay active is to regularly do something useful and positive. Consider working part-time if you’re able, or volunteer for organizations that match your values. According to the Senior Living blog, working or volunteering can help you interact with others, bridge the generation gap, give you a feeling of satisfaction and stay healthy and active.
In later life, we realize we don’t need all the “stuff” we once thought we did. It doesn’t add to our happiness, and maintaining and storing it can add to our unhappiness. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed by it is common. Many older people find pleasure in simplifying their lives and downsizing their living arrangements. That’s why many of them decide to settle into senior independent living communities.
Though our definitions of happiness may vary, how many of these seven keys are helping you to unlock the door to happy senior living?