If you need to take care of a senior parent, relative, or someone else, you might ask yourself what do seniors want most?
Seniors want to keep their independence when they age. Living at home independently, being part of a community, and creating financial independence is the most important to seniors. Avoiding loneliness and isolation is essential for seniors regarding healthy aging.
When we’re traveling around, I meet many seniors enjoying their retirement, and when we’re at home, we live with my parents, who both are seniors. I asked my parents, parents-in-law, and other seniors what they want most. I combined this knowledge and some exciting research and created this list of things seniors want most. Let’s find out more!
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Things Seniors Want Most
After interviewing both my parents, parents-in-law and other seniors living in a retirement community, I came up with this list of 9 things seniors want most. Independent living and healthy aging are known as the most important factors for seniors when their aging. However, there are many more important factors when it comes to creating a happy retired and senior life.
1) Financial Independence & Security
One of the most important things for seniors is having financial independence and security. Not to worry about their finances helps with the ability to enjoy their lives more. For many seniors, it’s just that simple. When they know that they have their finances secured, it’s easier to focus on other things to create happiness in their lives.
That said, financial independence doesn’t create happiness. However, it is important to have a solid financial basis to focus on other things. Suppose that one of your parents is retiring soon, but they’re unsure about their financial situation. It’s probably that one thing where all their energy focuses on. So, having a solid financial plan, independence or security helps to focus on other things to find fulfillment in life.
Most soon-to-be retirees and seniors have some financial plan for their retirement. Often this plan is a combination of personal savings, pension, and investments. However, many seniors don’t know that they can often save on their monthly payments. Lowering utility bills can save a lot of money that you can use to create more financial security.
BillShark is a helpful tool that helps with the process of lowering your bills. They do all the hard work, and you’ll end up with more money you can spend on other things! Find out more here.
2) To Stay Active
When it comes to aging, seniors all want the same thing. Healthy aging. One of the most important things someone can do when it comes to healthy aging is to stay active. According to the CDC, having regular physical activity is one of the most important things an older adult can do regarding their health.
The CDC mentions a minimum of physical activity per week for older adults, which is actually very easy to reach. Their minimum requirements are at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and two times muscle strengthen training a week for older adults.
In my article, How Can I Stay Active In Retirement?, I’ll share many ideas to stay active as a senior.
Staying active is also very important for my parents, who both are seniors. My dad loves being busy with different kinds of chores in and around the house, like gardening, maintaining his car, and things like that. He is in his early 70s and easily gets to the minimum physical activity requirements set by the CDC. He’s even getting much more exercise than required. Having enough things to do makes him feel happy.
Staying active for my mom, who is half the age of 60, is much different because of her mobility issues. She can’t reach the minimum requirements of the CDC when it comes to physical activity. However, she is physically active and does the things that her condition allows her to do. She also found many other things to stay active, like staying mentally active with doing art and handcraft projects at home. Also, she loves to stay socially engaged with people that are closely related to her.
It is essential to stay active for seniors, but staying active means much more than focusing on physical activity. Physical activity is just one part of the puzzle. Focusing on staying mentally and socially active is just as important. I’ll explain this in the next parts of this article because staying active it’s not only related to healthy aging. Staying active on all levels (physically, mentally, and socially) is also something seniors want most.
3) To Learn New Things
In 2020 we couldn’t travel at all because of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. So we end up staying at home for the entire year, living with my parents. It was a great year, and funny enough, I learned a lot more about how my parents spent their time. They’re actually eager to learn new things all the time. Both my parents are interested in learning about using new technology to make their lives easier. Of course, we love to help them with that.
They also keep themselves up to date with important developments in society to adjust their lifestyles if they feel they need to. It’s funny to see they actually live according to the famous saying ‘You Never Too Old To Learn.’
Healthy aging is one of the most important factors for seniors, and learning new things is a major part of this. According to Harvard Health Publishing, seniors need to focus on learning new things, challenge their brains, just like we challenge our muscles with physical activity. The article mentions when seniors learn new things, they can actually slow down cognitive aging!
4) Meaningful Relationships
Socially engagement is also very important to stay active for seniors. Having meaningful relations helps with staying happy. In fact, seniors who have a wider social circle that is larger than the standard contacts of family and friends, are often more active. Researchers think this is because you actually need to get out of the house to meet up with other people.
Staying active and having many social interactions is also related to slowing down cognitive aging. Mainly because with different interactions throughout the day, you keep challenging your brain, just like training your muscles.
Seniors are most scared of loneliness and social isolation. According to the CDC, it is even linked to serious health conditions. The CDC mentions that loneliness and social isolation are associated with a 50% increase in dementia and other medical conditions. Knowing this, it is even more important for seniors to have enough meaningful relationships.
5) To Be Part Of A Community
An excellent way for seniors to create meaningful relationships is to be part of a community. However, that’s not the only reason why seniors want to be part of a community.
My parents-in-law live in a retirement community in The Netherlands. When I asked them why they decided to move into the retirement community, they told me it was because of the many contacts with people of the same age.
They love that they live closely with people of the same generation and with the same interests. Doing activities together with their community members keeps them fit, active and gives them renewed energy.
6) Stay Independent
Seniors want to stay independent. It’s something we all want, right? Next to becoming lonely, seniors are most afraid of losing their independence. But later, more on that.
It’s important for seniors to keep their independence when it comes to daily activities. For some, even simple daily activities like grocery shopping becoming difficult when they’re aging.
There are ways for seniors to stay independent as long as possible. It all starts with creating an active and healthy lifestyle. However, health is declining with age, and sometimes things just happen without reason. You just can’t influence everything, right? Still, for seniors, it’s important to stay independent as long as possible. It gives them a sense of worthiness.
7) To Have A Daily Routine
Having a daily routine is important to create some structure in our lives. For seniors, it’s extra important to have a daily routine. With structure and repeating activities, it’s easier to keep their independence for a longer period. Also, when we’re retiring at some point, it’s for most seniors and retirees difficult to create structure during their day.
Life is changing when you’re retiring and also when you’re aging. When you stop working, you don’t have the daily activities from heading to work and all the other social events that are work-related. You basically need to re-invent yourself. In my ebook Five Steps To Happiness in Retirement, I help you create a new daily structure and many other challenges retirement has.
8) To Be Treated With Respect
Suppose that you’re aging and still are fit and healthy. However, people treat you like if you need help with everything, and even your opinion doesn’t matter anymore. You probably don’t like that, right?
It is what happens to many seniors, though. Often seniors are treated differently. However, if we treat seniors with respect, we probably help them much more. Seniors do matter. They want to be treated with respect.
Let’s look at people living in the blue zones globally—areas where people get much older than average. Most centenarians, people that reach the age of 100+ healthily, live in the blue zones. Apart from a healthy diet and active lifestyle, they are also treated with respect within their community. They are part of the daily activities and often have specific tasks within the community.
9) Healthy Aging
Healthy aging, it might sound logical. Isn’t that something we all want? Still, it’s what most seniors want in their lives—aging without major problems, both in health and with daily activities. We do get older on average, so we have a longer period to live as a senior. However, most seniors have some decline in their health status when they’re aging. Healthy aging is different for everyone. Most important is that as a senior, you do things that are beneficial when it comes to healthy aging. Like staying active, have a healthy diet, and create enough social contacts.
Things That Seniors Fear The Most
Seniors want to live a happy life while aging. However, aging comes with different struggles in life. Like health declining, loss of independence, leaving their homes, and loneliness. Unfortunately for many seniors, these things are more common than we like.
According to this study from AARP, 3 out of 4 seniors in the age of 50+ want to stay at home when they’re aging. They even want to invest in home modification if this helps them to stay at home independently longer. Most of them aren’t able to stay at their homes while aging. Often because of health declining.
Loneliness and loss of independence are the things seniors fear the most. The same study from AARP mentions that 3 out of 10 seniors report feeling left out or isolated from others. Loneliness occurs much more often when we’re aging because the social circle of friends and family is declining with age. However, according to the CDC, loneliness is mentioned as a serious health issue. It’s associated with things like dementia and other major medical issues. Therefore, seniors need to keep up with their social contacts and create more contacts and relationships next to the standard circle of friends & family.
Loss of independence is something seniors are often afraid of because you can’t do anything about it. When health is declining, it sometimes is inevitable to create some sort of assisted living for seniors. However, many seniors can still live independently with the right tools and products, even when their health is declining.
For example, they can use a product like MobileHelp. An alarm system seniors can use to call for help when they fall. It gives them much more freedom to get around, knowing there’s always a way to ask for help when they need it. You can get the MobileHelp device here.
In my article What Products Do Seniors Need, you can find a list of helpful items that seniors can use to stay independent for as long as possible.