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How To Improve Your Quality of Life In Later Years

Updated on October 26, 2015
WWII memorial
WWII memorial | Source

Find Someone Or Something To Love

The happiest people I know invest their time in others. Volunteering at a school or library can have unintended consequences. Volunteering at a school may put you into position to be help a kid turn her life around. Helping someone learn a new language helps them be successful in a new country.

A couple we know, lead a group of young married couples. They have lots of fun hanging out with them. The younger married couples benefit from their knowledge. These friends have been married more than 40 years. They are intelligent well educated people who have invested their lives in young people. Bob is an amazing physics tutor. High school or college it doesn't matter what kind of physics, after 30 years as a PHD in physics, he can make this complex subject understandable. Believe me this is rare, many physicists speak in a foreign language when telling what they do. Cindy is a farm girl from Iowa, who can cater a wedding reception for 250 or teach computers to any age. This couple invest their lives in young people and stay young themselves in the process.

Another friend an engineer, loves dogs; her husband is allergic. She became a trained dog walker at her local SPCA. She gets exercise, and the opportunity to love on dogs without having to deal with a sick husband.

Ideas For Keeping Healthy And Happy

As years go by, I am watching friends and family members pass away with increasing frequency. It becomes increasingly more apparent that quality of life in later years depends on the plans you have made.

Eating well and leading an active life helps you maintain your health longer and recover faster from illnesses. Here are some ideas that may help you determine what you will do after you retire to stay healthy and happy.

As you get older your sphere of friends, family and acquaintances diminishes, so make friends of various ages. It may take some doing, but it may be the best thing you ever do in your life. Some ways to meet people of various ages:

  • Go visit a convalescent home. Make a friend or two there. Those people have valuable stories to share. Remember to touch the person you visit in a convalescent home. They really respond to touch. Imagine never being touched.
  • If you like kids you could volunteer at a school. Often they are looking for people who will listen to kids read.
  • Go to the library. Frequently, tutors for English as second language learners are needed. If you are skilled in computers the library has computers and they need maintenance.
  • Become a cat helper or dog walker for your local Humane Society.
  • Join a gym or exercise group like Silver Sneakers.
  • Join a club. Book clubs,retired persons clubs the possibilities for clubs are endless.
  • Treat your family well.
  • Be kind to everyone you come in contact with. People like to be around people who are interesting and laugh.
  • If all you do is watch television you are probably not living a healthy lifestyle.

When The Decline Begins

Until two years ago Dad managed his diabetes and led an busy active life. He loved going to his Silver Sneakers exercise classes. When dad needed surgery two years ago his siblings took care of him. They nursed him through several surgeries. He kept saying to us, "Don't come until this or that, so I can be a good host". Finally we said enough. We are coming. Auntie, who helps dad the most, was going to on a trip. She is his wheels.

Maintaining his independence is tops on dads to do list. My brother-in-law went the first week of aunties trip, our family went the second week to help. We overlapped for a couple of days to compare notes and take care of legal matters. In the opinion of dad's sisters and daughter-in-law, dads house desperately needed cleaning. Seventeen years as a batchelor has not improved his housekeeping skills. I never though much of his housekeeping skills. He is tidy, but not clean.

My husband and his brother did car maintenance, and legal stuff. They left me to find a housekeeper.

As I thought of the perfect someone I was so romantic. Dorothy Sawyers gave Bunter to Lord Peter Whimsey to be his kindred spirit. Alice was the wise housekeeper that kept the Brady Bunch together and Jan Karon gave Puny the sassy, competent, wise young house help to Father Tim in the Mitford series.

Puny was really who I had in mind, I never expected to find anyone like that, but I was hoping. After calling five or six companies, and being told they only clean surfaces, I called individuals and left messages. I was beginning to panic. Time was running out. We only had two days before we went home to California. Only one gal called me back. She lived too far away.

Discouragement set in on that stormy November day. My ankle hurt like the dickens,but that is another story.

The weather improved, so dad decided to walk to his neighbors. We were afraid he would fall so we went too. It never ceases to amaze me how much he loves to introduce his children to people. While we were chatting on the porch the neighbor mentioned going to church. Well I knew churches sometimes knew people who would help so that conversation triggered an idea. Surely there must be someone who cleans houses at the church. When I called the church the next day, the secretary said, "I know someone". She took my number. By one pm I had a call. After I explained the situation,the gal said, " Sounds like I need to come right over and meet you all". I loved this woman right from the start. She didn't bat an eyelash at the dirty house. After two weeks of constantly cleaning the house it was still not clean to my standards. Believe me I am not a clean freak. My son spent an hour on the shower floor and if you saw his room you would know he isn't a clean freak either.

Miss Patty is sassy, competent and likes dad. She cleaned last week. When I asked dad how he liked the cleaning gal he said "She has some slick tools". Dad really liked her. Now Dad has a housekeeper he likes and who likes him. What does this have to do with quality of life? For dad, this improves his quality of life by giving him a little company on cleaning day. We are all relieved he has another person visiting him. The bonus is she will haul his trash away. My weekly trash collection service has recycling, green waste and trash bins. This was my biggest victory. He has no trash pick up where he lives.

The more trusted people who visit from time to time allows us to monitor dad while giving him the independence he craves and peace of mind we need.

Panic Buttons/Life Alert

We all thought life would be safer for Dad if we got him one of those buttons you hear advertised.

"Help! I have fallen down and can't get up". "No problem sir, we are sending help".

Very good if you have a large phone provider. Dad's phone company is little. We ordered one that was advertized nationally. Dad sent it back because it didn't work. Leafing through the pamphlets that come in the telephone bill we discovered that Dad's little rural phone company had a panic button that works with his phone. It had big writing,and was half the price of the one that didn't work.

You need to look at what is available locally for ways to help.


Dad went to college on a scholarship. He played a sport every season. He didn't really love sports as we all thought, but he only ate when the teams ate, so he played sports. He graduated at 21 with a BS in chemistry and a MA in electrical engineering. By the time he was 25 he had a wife and two sons. By 35 he had at least two patents in his name and 6 kids. He was highly respected in his field. To him, the second of 6 kids, independence is really important. For that reason his children have made a decision we don't like. It is our desire that dad move into town and be safe. He has four siblings within 50 miles and could live closer to anyone of them. A farm boy from Nebraska doesn't want to be safe, he wants to be independent. The main thing that keeps him independent is his telephone and neighbors. He talks with one of his sisters or brothers every day. They have dinner and play cards each week. The two eldest sons have a call schedule. I write letters. Dad doesn't get a ton of calls, but he gets a couple everyday. We evaluate how he is doing and call his siblings for local information.

Bill Pay

Some years ago Dad set up an automatic bill pay. His bills roll through his credit card. Automatic bill payment is another way to help a loved one stay independent. With a small amount of monitoring this a great way to make sure the bills get paid.

Planning Takes A Hard Look At Reallity

Planning for your later years is essential if you want to be independent as your physical abilities decline. The dream retirement for many people is living in the country. It is wonderful as long as you are in good health. It is a nightmare if you are ill. Have a plan B for where to live when if you can't drive. Invest in "good" relationships with others. Ultimately, the good relationships dad has with neighbors make his independence possible. They keep an eye out for him. He shares his newspaper with the neighbor across the street. She works long hours, so he walks over and leaves it on her porch. He gets some exercise in the meantime. On Saturdays and Sundays, this routine becomes a social event because he stays and chats for awhile. If the newspaper doesn't move, the neighbor up the street looks into why Dad hasn't picked it up. They look out for each other. Do you know your neighbors? Is your lifestyle going to carry you through frail health? What is your plan?

The best birthday gift Dad ever got was H.J. on his 80th birthday.
The best birthday gift Dad ever got was H.J. on his 80th birthday. | Source

For The Young

Ask older people to tell you stories about their lives. For a while high school teachers were giving students an assignment to interview a veteran. My mom was in high demand since she was a novelty. She was a nurse for 50 years. She was an army officer for six years. She was sharp on current events and where the country was going in the twenty second century. Record the stories they tell you so others can remember. One of my nephews interviewed dad. He sent us a copy, which is how we found out he had patents in his name.

Whether you are young or old you can make a difference in someones life. How you do that is up to you, Your reward is a better quality of life.

If you don't like people all that much find an animal friend. You could also find a project to accomplish.

There was a useless bit of land behind the local High School. It was an eyesore on a busy street. The area was overrun with weeds, the soil was awful. A retired gentleman started landscaping the area some years back. He lived in the apartments next door and had nothing to do. Today this useless area is beautiful. The city put in a bench and people along the bike trail enjoy the beautiful area this man created. He improved my quality of life because he was bored. You too can improve your quality of life, but how needs your creativity. An elderly little lady I know calls her friends, then posts in emails what they need. She certainly improves their lives. She improves my life with her charming writing. Sometimes I can help with the needs she post. She is always tickled to see me; I get the best hugs.

What will you do for somebody today?

Another amazing story I once heard concerned a lady who was an invalid on a fixed income. Her phone plan only allowed a limited number of calls a month. She figured how many calls she could make a day until the minutes were gone. Then began calling people in the phone book to tell them she was praying for them and to have a good day. She was amazed at the conversations that started and how much people needed to talk to someone.

"What you think, is what you are", someone once said. Having a positive attitude and being creative will improve your life and those around you. Habits developed when you are young make old age better or worse. You make the decision.


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    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      maggs, Thanks so much for stopping in to read and vote. Your are very kind.

    • maggs224 profile image


      6 years ago from Sunny Spain

      An interesting hub packed full of good ideas, sound advice and information which if followed will improve the quality of life of anyone regardless of their age.

      We have recently moved out of our house in the country into an apartment in the centre of town which has made life a lot easier and simpler for us for just those reasons you mention in your hub.

      I enjoyed reading this hub and have voted it up and hit useful and interesting :D

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Express10-Grateful you stopped.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 

      7 years ago from East Coast

      I enjoyed this useful hub. It offers very good advice. Thanks.

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Peggy W-Thank you for the votes. You definitely don't need to be related. I adopted myself into my best friends family when I was 13. I looked like one of them. No one can tell I'm not. I visit whenever I can, especially since BF has lived abroad most of the last 30 years and I am 40 minutes away.

      I recently met several elderly ladies who are riotous. I have the best fun with them.

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Sparklea- Grandparents frequently have more influence on grandchildren than they will ever know. Mine certainly did. Your Grandparents did a lovely job. Blessing in return.

      Annart- nor do we in the US. I grew up with elderly people as the youngest child of the oldest son my grandma was nearly seventy when I was born. My brother's girlfriend taught me to show respect to grandma. We cooked and cleaned and talked with grandma. What stories she had to tell of the San Francisco 1906 earthquake and growing up in California in the late 1800's I just wish I remembered more.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Interesting and informative article about improving life for those who become elderly in our population. Your volunteer suggestions were great. One does not need to be related to people to wish to help. We will all get there someday (if we live long enough) and probably need some extra help from others! Voted up and useful.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      7 years ago from SW England

      Interesting. Don't think we respect our oldies enough in Britain. They have a lot to teach us all. Now that I'm getting rather close to being an oldie, I'm getting worried! But I have great daughters and an oh-so-thoughtful granddaughter so I think I'll be ok. Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for a great write-up and your wonderful suggestions. You are sincere, and you write as if you are talking directly to the reader. What a great gift you have! I was raised by my grandparents, and all their friends were their age. My sister and I learned, very early, to respect our elders. Love your question at the end, "What will you do for somebody today?" I think that is a great inquiry to anyone of any age. Thank you again, I look forward to reading your other hubs. Blessings, Sparklea

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Pamela-Thank you for visiting. Your parents are fortunate to have a daughter who understands the need for stimulation. Blessings

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Dapples 

      7 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      This is a very comprehensive article you've written. It covers so many good points. My parents are elderly and finding many things changing rapidly in what they can do and can no longer manage to do. The active, serving component in anyone's life is very important and needs to be nourished as long as physically possible. Thanks for a great hub.

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      CloudExplorer- Welcome. My heart is so with you. My son is laid-off, and he just became a new dad.-

      You are so right about poverty. First time I was in the projects of Oakland, California. I was a teen and I had to give something to a friend. I still vividly see the dead cat and garbage strewn around. My thought was,"Why doesn't someone clean the place up". I didn't realize until years later how poverty robs people of dignity.

      Education is the answer, but schools no longer educate. My great niece is brilliant. When the university asked for a check here mother was floor. She didn't know how to write one. The hygiene,cooking,sewing,and finance in our middle school is taught in a 12 week course in the eight grade. There is no basic math beyond the 6th grade. Developmentally most children don't have the cognitive maturity to learn algebra until the are 12 or 13, but students are pushed beyond developmental milestones in schools and fail. They fail, not because they aren't smart, rather because their brains haven't developed to learn what is being pushed on them. Because of this, schools set the average kid up for failure in life. Want to eliminate poverty: give people a joy for learning. So glad you are on HP. Keep up the good writing. Bless you.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      7 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This is a great hub, well presented with heaps of suggestions and ideas. Great advice for both young and old.

      We certainly need to be thinking about the quality of our lives.

      There are many organisations we can join that cover a whole multitude of aspects. Fund raising to help those that need it. Interesting speakers that may possibly lead to new hobbies. Day trips to visit somewhere we not normally think about going on our own. And of course friendship and suppoert. Friends that will see that you are never alone as you age.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 

      7 years ago from New York City

      Living life well takes a great deal of focus, balanced finances, living in moderation,& many other factors which you've stated as well here. Unfortunately many people today don't have the will power to deal with possible financial difficulties they are facing, or courage to love someone they're not related too, or to even share things for that matter with strangers or loved ones, let alone try to be nice to their elders.

      The economy is tough to deal with & is a worldwide issue today, so its truly tough for anyone living under such stressful conditions to really think of what you've written about here. I'm currently unemployed as well as many countless others, and with that said I guess the improvement of the overall quality of life is a relative thing & some people have very little options if any to make such changes.

      Your hub is awesome anyhow, but I just needed to point out the fact that, not everyone has an opportunity to improve on such things, mostly because poverty has been the core issue people have been presented with as soon as the job let them go, or boss fired them.

      I'm glad your making the effort here to help those who don't know any better, but we need and even greater quality of life change formula for humanity as a whole as well, in all aspects of our existence on earth.

      Voted up in many more ways than one, but its truly useful to those in a better position in life to do such things.

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Thank you very much for the follow and the kind comments.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a beautiful, Hub! It seems like you have acquired much wisdom through a life well-lived. I truly enjoyed it. Voted up and awesome!

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      MsDora- Bless you for caring for your mother. I am always wondering what my life will be like. But I count my blessings and depend on my God; then there is peace in my heart. Happy New Year.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      7 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very good hub, and very relevant. My 80 year old mother came to live with me a few months ago. Watching her has made me wonder what life will be for me when I am that age. Your suggestion of having people around means much to me, since I have no siblings.

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Giselle Maine- Thank you for your lovely words.

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 

      7 years ago

      These are great ideas. I like the long-term thinking you are so clearly doing. I already volunteer in my son's preschool, but until I saw your article it hadn't occurred to me that this is something I could still keep doing (or come back to) in my later years even when my son is long finished with preschool. Thanks for the inspirations here.

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      justmesuzanne-Thanks for you comment.

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      7 years ago from Texas

      Great suggestions. I have known a few older people who were saved by alert buttons! :) Voted up and useful!

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      The Best, Dad was adamant that the button be small or when the weather heats up he wouldn't carry the thing. I can't believe how large some of them are. Thanks for sharing.

      Merry Christmas

    • The-BestMouseTrap profile image

      Pam Valentine 

      7 years ago from The Heartland, USA

      Those Panic buttons or life alert are great monitors, but you have to wear them or be able to get to them. Our neighbor always forgot to put his on, so we had to call him everyday to remind him, just incase. Great thoughtful ideas and they can be very rewarding too.

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Thanks for stopping Dim Flaxenwick.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      7 years ago from Great Britain

      Very interesting hub and great advice for young people. Volunteering is very rewarding.

      Thank you.

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      jenubouka, I have friends like your neighbor. My mother was the WWII vet that many of my sons friends went to interview for homework assignment on WWII. I didn't realize what a treasure she was until she was gone. She was still going to the gym 3-4 times a week when she passed at 90.

    • tirelesstraveler profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Thumbi, you are so correct most of these ideas would not work in India.

      Please write a hub on the aged in your country. I would be very interested.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You are so right about learning more and respecting our elders. I love your ideas! My neighbor is in her late 80's and I just get a kick out of her stories growing up, she may just out live the entire neighborhood.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      7 years ago from India

      I liked your ideas to do when you become older. But I also understand that the system in your country is very different from India. In India, you may not find many elderly visiting convalescent home or library as a volunteer.


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