Retirement can be an exciting upcoming chapter in your life. After decades of working and raising a family, retirees finally have the freedom to pursue their dreams and enjoy their golden years.
However, this phase of life also brings health challenges. Chronic conditions often emerge in the senior years as your mobility and health decline. To truly enjoy retirement, you must care for your physical and mental health.
Your health should be your number one priority at this stage of life. Research shows that staying physically and socially active is imperative for improving the quality of life after retirement. Retired people can thrive well into their 70s, 80s, and beyond if they plan and maintain certain healthy habits.
Statistics show that the 65 and older population is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060. The senior population is rapidly expanding, with 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 daily; this makes it more pressing than ever for retirees to focus on their well-being. A healthy body and sharp mind will allow retirees to remain independent, pursue hobbies and leisure activities, spend quality time with family and friends, and find purpose in this exciting time.
Here are seven impactful ways retirees over 67 can stay healthy and enjoy life to the fullest:
1. Stay Safe and Socially Engaged
Loneliness and isolation are associated with poorer cognitive function and depression. For many seniors, residential communities can offer a convenient environment for social interaction. However, you must be aware of potential vulnerabilities. To help you stay safe from potential risks in care facilities, resources such as www.nursinghomeabusecenter.com provide valuable information to identify and combat abuse and neglect.
In a safe environment, seniors can actively participate in social activities that provide a sense of purpose. Attending group meetups, volunteering at a local charity, taking group classes, going on group tours, visiting family, and traveling with friends are all great options. But if mobility is an issue, you can regularly schedule video chat sessions with loved ones.
2. Stay Physically Active
Older adults must indulge in physical activity to maintain strength, balance, and cardiovascular health. The CDC recommends seniors get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking. It’s ideal to spread this out five days a week, aiming for 30 minutes per session. A daily 30-minute walk is an easy way to meet this goal.
In addition, strength training for the major muscle groups should be done at least twice weekly. Focus on working the major muscle groups, including the legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms. Lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing calisthenics like push-ups or sit-ups, and yoga are effective ways to build strength.
Other excellent low-impact activities for seniors include gardening, swimming, cycling, dancing, Tai Chi, and water aerobics. Staying active will keep joints flexible, reduce fall risk, manage arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, and improve sleep patterns and cognitive function.
3. Prioritize Sleep
Quality sleep is essential for good physical and mental health. However, insomnia and sleep disturbances often increase with age. Stick to consistent bedtime and wake-up schedules and limit daytime napping to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Avoid screens before bed and limit caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals in the evening.
Create a restful sleep environment that is cool, dark, and quiet. Ask your doctor if any medications could be disrupting your sleep. Consider a white noise machine or earplugs if noise is an issue. Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night helps recharge for the next day. Address any potential sleep disorders like sleep apnea promptly.
4. Challenge Your Brain
The adage “use it or lose it” applies to brain health. Retirees should make a point to regularly challenge their thinking skills by learning new things. Take a course at a local college on a subject you’re curious about. Learning a new language stimulates brain regions that control speech, memory, and auditory processing.
Solve the crossword, Sudoku, word searches, or logic puzzles to activate thinking. Play strategic games like chess, checkers, backgammon, or bridge, which require focus and planning skills. Pursuing mentally stimulating hobbies like learning a musical instrument also has cognitive benefits. Social interaction is also important for brain health, so join a book club or game group.
5. Manage Medications
Aging bodies metabolize medications differently. Have doctors review all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs annually. Be diligent about taking medications and watch out for any worrisome side effects like dizziness or nausea. Use pill organizers and reminders if you need help staying on track with meds.
Stay on top of your medications; know what you’re taking and why. Have regular bloodwork to monitor medication levels. Consult a pharmacy that provides blister packs or automatic refills if managing medications independently is difficult.
6. See Your Healthcare Providers
As you age, your healthcare providers become your closest friends. Schedule regular wellness exams, dental cleanings, and sight and hearing tests. Annual flu shots and vaccinations like shingles vaccines are necessary for older adults. Get age-appropriate cancer screenings. Female retirees should continue mammograms into their 70s and have regular bone density scans for osteoporosis.
Keep medical records organized and up-to-date. Track your medications, vaccinations, past procedures, and family history. Keep a check on new or worsening symptoms and report them immediately to your doctor. Consider wearing a medical alert bracelet if you have any major health conditions.
7. Find Your Purpose
Feeling fulfilled and having a sense of purpose is linked to better cognitive and emotional health after retirement. Explore new passions and hobbies you’ve always wanted to pursue but never had time for while working. Consider volunteering to contribute to your community in a meaningful way. Tutoring children, delivering meals to the homebound, or helping at an animal shelter is quite rewarding.
Share wisdom and mentor younger generations. Take trips you’ve dreamed about. Write your memoir or family history. Discover what provides you meaning and joy in this new chapter of life. Staying engaged, curious, and contributing to something bigger than yourself provides a sense of purpose during retirement.
Entering retirement after years in the workforce can be refreshing. With more free time and freedom, retirees have great opportunities to focus on their well-being and embrace this transitional phase of life. With a balanced lifestyle, seniors can remain independent and lively long after retirement. Happy retirement to you!