Retirement is an important milestone…a time to focus on you. You may already have a wealth of ideas for how you’d like to spend that time, but don’t forget that list should include taking charge of your physical and mental health so you can maximize your quality of life and maintain your independence in your golden years.
Here are 3 key things you can do:
Be Informed and Actively Involved in Your Healthcare
You are your own best advocate when it comes to your healthcare. Obtaining up-to-date information can help you make the right decisions for living a healthy lifestyle. A physician with special training in gerontology is particularly well equipped to understand the unique needs of the aging body and mind and can help advise you on what to pay attention to.
It’s more important than ever to get regular checkups and undergo preventive health screenings as recommended (e.g., colonoscopy, glaucoma, blood sugar, cholesterol, mammography and bone density for women) because the risks for certain diseases increase as we get older. Screenings can prevent some problems and catch others at the earliest stages when they are most treatable.
Flu vaccinations are recommended for all adults over 50 because complications from the flu can be life-threatening in seniors. Vaccines for other serious diseases such as shingles and tetanus are also available. Talk to your doctor about what might be appropriate for you.
Adopt or Maintain Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Eat Right. Increasing consumption of certain types of food and limiting your intake of others can help prevent and control diseases that become more prevalent as people age.
Exercise Your Body Physical activity is vital for healthy aging. An inactive lifestyle can cause older adults to lose ground in areas that are important for staying healthy and independent: strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance. It can give your mental health a boost as well. A lot of problems we used to consider an inevitable part of aging—loss of strength, bone thinning, bad balance, even memory loss—may actually be related, at least in part, to disuse of the body.
Exercise Your Brain. Keeping your brain active and maintaining creativity actually may help to prevent cognitive decline and memory problems. The more you use and sharpen your brain, the more benefits you will get.
Relax. Too much stress can make you irritable and depressed and raise your heart rate and blood pressure. There is scientific evidence that negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, and anger contribute to sickness such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Relaxation eases your body’s response to negative emotions. Physical activity and healthy eating can help prevent or ease stress as well.
Find Purpose & Meaning/Stay Involved
Keeping your brain active and staying involved with friends and family can do a world of good for your mental and emotional health. The National Institute on Aging says that participating in activities you enjoy and keeping busy are just as important to your well being as physical exercise and proper nutrition.