Finding fulfillment later in life affirms what Victoria Walker, M.D., has learned as chief medical and quality officer for the Good Samaritan Society. Her work focuses on improving people’s lives by supporting their spirituality, sense of purpose, social connections, financial stability, physical health and community engagement. Here are Dr. Walker’s suggestions for boosting your well-being:
6 ways to boost your well-being
Invest in your relationships
“Relationships are very impactful on well-being,” Dr. Walker says. How do your family dynamics and workplace and community interactions influence how you feel — and vice versa? Research has shown, for example, that how a caregiver is doing has an effect on the person receiving care.
Include physical activity in your daily routine
“Exercise has great benefits, not just for physical health but also mental well-being,” Dr. Walker says. Walking, taking the stairs, playing with the grandkids — all these things add up.
Find ways to make someone’s life better
“Purpose is another key to people thriving at all ages,” Dr. Walker says. “How can you contribute to the greater good? It doesn’t need to be a huge project. My husband’s grandma, who lived in a nursing home, visited other residents in their rooms and prayed the rosary with them.”
Activate your senses
“Anybody who’s cranked up ‘Dancing Queen’ when they’re having a bad day knows music is good for well-being,” Dr. Walker says. “Pay attention to how things reach you through your different senses.” This is particularly important for someone with sensory processing issues. If you’ve lost your sense of smell and taste due to traumatic brain injury, for instance, look for things that stimulate sight, hearing and touch.
Live within your means
Financial wellness isn’t so much about your net worth but about having the money to do what’s most important to you. “Think about what really matters to you,” Dr. Walker suggests. “Make sure the ways you are spending your money and time are consistent with that.”
Explore a hobby or special interest
This could be an activity you once loved or wanted to pursue, or something entirely new. “People go into depression when they don’t have anything interesting to do,” Dr. Walker says. “Doing something that fulfills a desire they’ve had for a long time—people find that intensely meaningful.”