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The major weakness of the research in my thesis was that it was confined to people living in the community and did not include people living in retirement villages and residential care. This was necessary because it would have been impossible if I had extended it further, particularly as I suspect that data on these is probably unavailable. It didn’t stop me wondering if what I had found (that we all need a purpose in our lives throughout life) also applied to this group who were no longer living in the community.
One of the problems with this is finding your purpose. One of my sources, Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer (Goldman and Mahler, 1995), whilst showing a wide variety of purposes these late bloomers had found, only referred to individual purposes. I was interested to know if community organisations such as churches could provide a purpose, particularly as I felt this would fit in with the Christian exhortation to love their neighbour. (I had been brought up in this church but left in disgust at what I saw was their hypocrisy; saying one thing and doing another).
I contacted a minister I had met who is not only willing to talk to me about it but also passed me on to one of his colleagues who runs a residential aged care village. It looks as though I will be able to plug two holes in my research. Thank goodness I am retired and can follow both these leads. I just hope I have enough time left in my life.
I was reminded the other day of this aspect of ageing when I was asked to sign a petition to allow us to leave this world when we no longer find our lives reach an acceptable standard. I have always felt that just as we have no right to kill another human being (countries who allow this don’t appear to have reached an acceptable level of maturity) I don’t think anyone should have the right to force me to live. Maybe if medicine can reach the stage where it can alleviate all suffering I might change my mind.
I also feel that ‘living wills’ which determine what resuscitation we choose to have should be universal and universally respected so that we have some say in what happens to us even if we are not conscious.
There is so much to be done in this world. I wish people weren’t so concerned with their egos and building their empires, both financially and in terms of territory. Having other people’s respect (and love) are the most important assets we can have in life. Having a purpose which improves the life of others is likely to fulfil these.