Just as we look forward to a child’s development, we can look forward to reaching our senior years with positive anticipation. Retirement brings with it loads of free time to spend with loved ones and an opportunity to dabble in all the interests that got put on the back burner when one was younger.
Undoubtedly aging brings with it physical and cognitive stresses. To maintain a sense of well-being we need to actively work towards keeping ourselves physically and mentally healthy. To do so one needs to be armed with information about how to take better care of both the body and mind.
Stay Physically Active
Post-retirement the pace of everyday work slows down. With fewer work or family commitments, there is a decrease in the “need” to accomplish certain daily physical tasks. Staying active is at the core of maintaining good physical and mental health. Incorporate a regular daily dose of exercise. Make sure you accomplish household chores yourselves, looking at house-help only as “help” not a substitute for physical work that you can do yourselves. Going for a walk in the neighborhood park, walking the dog or going out to buy groceries, gardening, making your bed and an occasional “date” with the grandkids- all add up to a significant and important dose of physical activity.
Aging is often associated with chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension. By making healthier food choices you can reduce the risk of these diseases. Researchers have also found linkages between food choices and cognitive function. A general rule of thumb is to choose nutritious healthy meals that are proportionately higher in fresh vegetables, lean meats and whole grains and low in trans-fats, refined sugar, and refined flour. Eat as many different colored, flavored, and textured vegetables as you can throughout the week.
The sense of thirst is sometimes compromised as we age, so while you may not “feel thirsty”, you could well be getting dehydrated. Drink water often. Low-fat milk and fresh juices are also a good choice but beware of store-bought juices with added sugar and preservatives.
Stay Mentally Active
Engaging in a meaningful activity keeps our mind busy and active, setting us on the path for long term mental health. Multiple studies have found that seniors who volunteer their time are able to find both peace and purpose. This gives them something to look forward to, plan for and overall a more positive outlook on the world. You are never too old to learn something new. Anything that makes your mind work harder than usual is better. Go ahead and solve puzzles, try your hand at art or photography, teach others something you know or learn a new language.
A healthy and alert mind is the best gift you can give yourself, and one that you will use for a long time to come.
Keep Up With Health Checks and Medicines
Get regular tests done for any condition that you may already suffer from such as hypertension and diabetes and to check for any new developments. Ask your doctor about the possible side effects of a new medication. Find a way to keep a tab on your medications, how much and at what time you need to take these. There are now apps that will help remind you of the same. Let technology be your friend and assistant.
Loneliness is a common emotion amongst the elderly. Make an effort to visit family and friends or invite them over to your place. Spend time with grandchildren, get them to teach you new things and tell them old stories. Teach them your family’s secret recipes.
Even if life has been too busy and you’ve barely kept up with your physical and mental health, keep heart in the fact that it is never too late to start. When you take care of yourself, both you and your loved ones can reap the benefits of your golden years.