Joy Knows no Age Barrier

October 10 is World Mental Health Day

More than 2 billion people will be over the age of 60 by 2050. According to Statistics Canada, the population of those age 85 and older is expected to triple over the next 25 years.

With Canada’s coming ‘grey wave’, the topic of senior mental health has never been so important.

The media often inundates us with images of active, youthful seniors, leaving many to question their perception of aging, especially when faced with the natural progression of wrinkles or issues such as chronic conditions, reduced mobility, or social isolation.

However, The Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) believes that the essence of optimal aging transcends youthful appearances or physical prowess. It centers around the pursuit of a meaningful life, a life filled with happiness, joy, and purpose even amidst the physical, social, and cognitive changes that aging may bring.

Research reveals that joy among older adults has not received the attention it deserves in the scientific literature, even though it is pivotal for health and well-being. Two primary sources of joy emerge from recent studies: social interactions and participating in meaningful activities.

Social interactions, whether with family, friends, or caregiving staff, foster a sense of belonging, community, and joy. Conversations often revolve around cherished memories, serving as an opportunity to relive past achievements and experiences, igniting feelings of happiness.

Engaging in meaningful activities is equally essential. Many older adults pursue hobbies and activities that bring them joy, such as gardening, painting, dancing, reading, or playing music. These pursuits, regardless of physical limitations, offer a profound sense of well-being and contentment. Even enjoying nature or listening to music can spark joy and relaxation.

Furthermore, as many CARP members have found, volunteerism and involvement in community activities provide opportunities to build connections, combat loneliness, and cultivate joy. Whether it’s volunteering at a local animal shelter or participating in local committees, these endeavors provide not only a sense of satisfaction but also a renewed sense of purpose.

Life challenges don’t preclude the ability to experience joy.  That said, mental health issues can impact older Canadians too.  Read more about how CARP advocates for mental health.

 Read these articles from McMaster’s Optimal Aging Portal

Aging is not solely about the passage of time; it is about living a meaningful life filled with the joys that come from cherished relationships and fulfilling activities.

Last edited October 10, 2023