After decades of raising kids, working endless hours and putting everyone else’s needs first, this is finally your time to relax. But that doesn’t mean you have to slow down! Even if arthritis puts a kink in your step or a chronic health condition means you’re in your house more often than out of it, you can still lead an active lifestyle on your terms and make the golden years shine.
No matter what you’ve planned for your retirement, here are eight ways to ensure you’re in the best shape possible to enjoy everything life has to offer.
- Stay on top of your health. Because our immune systems weaken as we grow older, we’re more susceptible to preventable illnesses that can sidetrack our activities. However, only 50 percent of seniors are up-to-date on essential preventative care services. Be sure to schedule your yearly checkups, get your recommended vaccinations, and don’t forget all those uncomfortable, yet life-saving, exams like colonoscopies and mammograms.
- Keep fueling your mind. While you can’t prevent conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s, there are steps you can take to lower your risk, and the continual stimulation of the brain is a big one. Board games, books and crossword puzzles can all keep your mind engaged, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Take a computer or art class. Participate in educational workshops at your local library. Or, try your hand at a new hobby like playing guitar or knitting. When you keep the brain active, the rest of the body follows.
- Get on your feet. Speaking of active, this is no time to confine yourself to your couch. Just 34 percent of adults ages 65-75 are physically active, and this lack of exercise can increase one’s risk of falls, high blood pressure and chronic disease. Simply by taking a 30-minute walk outside or in the mall, you significantly improve both your physical and mental health. To maximize your results, add weight training and flexibility exercises—like yoga or Pilates—to your regimen, or step it up with your favorite sports like tennis or golf. If you’re homebound, talk to your home health care provider about exercises you can perform safely, even while sitting in a chair.
- Put your caring spirit to work. One common issue retirees face once their child-rearing and workdays are behind them is losing their sense of purpose. Studies show that when seniors spend time helping others through volunteerism, they regain the confidence that comes with contributing to the good of society. Plus, volunteering helps seniors grow their social network, lower their risk of depression and anxiety, and even improve their physical health.
- Watch what you eat. Like exercise, a healthy diet sets the foundation for a longer life. Since our metabolism slows down once we enter our golden years, seniors tend to eat less, which means getting the right balance of vitamins and nutrients is essential. Make sure your meals center around lean meats, plenty of fruits and vegetables (the more colorful, the better!), whole grains, and low-fat dairy items.
- Build your social network. Isolation is one of the biggest threats to a senior’s well-being—43 percent of seniors say they feel lonely on a regular basis. If you find your social life on the decline, start building it back up again. Join a club through your church, gym or community center, find a place to volunteer, and make an extra effort to schedule time with family and friends.
- Practice mindfulness daily. When your ability to live life like you used to is affected, it can be hard to see the positives in your life. However, when seniors practice gratitude and refocus their attitude, their capacity to adapt to—and even overcome—obstacles improves significantly. Take time every day to meditate, take a quiet walk or journal your thoughts. If negative self-talk fills your mind, find ways to reframe it. Most importantly, if life feels too overwhelming, schedule time to speak with a therapist or clergy member you trust.
- Ask for help if needed. You spent years caring for everyone around you, from your kids to your coworkers. If you need help, don’t feel guilty asking for it, whether it’s a ride to the community center or someone to assist you with yard work. There’s no reason for you to be stuck at home or injure yourself when there are so many people ready and willing to jump in as a way to say thank you for everything you’ve done for them.
For additional tips on successful aging, talk to the team at AccuCare Home Health Care of St. Louis. We provide a variety of services to homebound seniors that help them regain their independence and live their best life possible, even when injury or illness stands in their way. To schedule your free consultation, contact us today at 314-279-0010