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Purpose and Meaning in Later Life

volunteering In order to thrive we humans need a sense of purpose and it is purpose that gives our lives meaning. In later life we have often left behind the roles that gave us that sense of purpose. Retired from our paid jobs, our children flown the nest, our parents may have died, so how might we find purpose?

Later life offers us two major directions of exploration, firstly an internal journey in which we have the opportunity to explore and reflect upon who we are, the life lived, our relationships past and present and our journey to completion.

volunteering  Secondly we can be free to explore purposeful action  in the world, in our families and communities. People  in later life are the backbone of many organisations.  From charities to allotments, from food banks to  conservation, from supporting the local library to the  local steam railway, it is often retired volunteers who  make these activities possible. Your local council or  library will most likely have a directory of volunteering  opportunities in your area although we often find opportunities through friends and like minded folk.

On-line Resources

Life Purpose The inspiration you need to find your drive

Finding Meaning and Purpose in Old Age

Huffpost: Finding Purpose And Meaning Later In Life

Psychology Today: Finding Meaning After 50 By Embracing ALL of Life!

Ageing Better: Volunteering for a better later life

Ageing Better: Review of volunteering and community contributions in later life

Birmingham University:Volunteering later in life can enhance mental health and well-being


Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra, ISBN 978-1-60414-4, Rider, 2008

How, Then, Shall We Live? Wayne Muller, ISBN 0-553-37505-9, Bantam, 1997

From Ageing to Sage-ing, Zalmon Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald S Miller, ISBN 978-1-4555-3060-1, Grand Central Publishing, 1997

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, James Hollis, ISBN 1-592-40207-0, Gotham Books, 2005

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