Staying Healthy for Retirement Years
For some of us, retirement is decades away. For others, it could be a matter of 5-10 years. Before the day comes, it’s good to take steps towards staying healthy for retirement years.
A couple over 65 is estimated to pay $200,000.00 to cover medical costs without employer-sponsored healthcare. Even with Medicare, you may need to purchase supplemental coverage to cover your medication. Therefore, it’s not only important to set aside money in things like IRAs or 401Ks, but also to maintain good health. The healthier you are in your retirement years, the less money you’ll spend in medical expenses.
It’s just as important to stay healthy mentally as physically. Keep a positive attitude. Laughing has been known to lower blood pressure. The happier you are, the less you stress you build up. Massive stress can damage your immune system, making your body less likely to fight off diseases.
Ways of Staying Healthy for Retirement Years
Are you headed towards retirement? Are you currently retired? Whether you’re pre-retirement or post-retirement, here are 13 helpful hints on how to improve your health and well-being:
1. Kick Back and Relax: As well as damaging your immune system, stress can cause you to be irritable and depressed. This causes increased heart rate, muscle tension, and high blood pressure. Experiment with different methods of relaxation. Find one that works best for you. Types of relaxation include meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and listening to relaxing music. Do one of those activities once or twice a day for 15-20 minutes.
2. Express Your Feelings: It’s no mystery that keeping things bottled up can increase stress. Find someone to talk to when you’re feeling upset. Hopefully, your friends and/or family could serve as your support system. If not, maybe you could consider joining a support group. Keeping a journal helps as well.
3. Don’t Be Cynical: If you’re a perfectionist and/or tend to fixate on the negative, you could live an incredibly stressful lifestyle. Try to change your way of thinking. Lower your expectations of others. Accept things you cannot change. Try to view problems as opportunities.
4. Keep Track of Blood Pressure: An optimal blood pressure level is 120/80 mmHg or less. To help manage your blood pressure, cut down on salt, limit alcohol and caffeine intakes, quit smoking, watch cholesterol levels, exercise, lose weight, and reduce stress.
5. Monitor Your Blood Sugar: Diabetes is a common disease amongst the elderly. That’s why you should always check your blood sugar. A normal fasting blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL. Higher levels may indicate risk for diabetes. Risk factors include lack of exercise and obesity. Diabetics are more likely to develop additional heart risks, including high blood pressure and cholesterol.
6. Exercise Your Brain: Dementia is highly common in the elderly. That’s why it’s important to engage in activities that’ll prevent your mind from wasting away. Those activities could include dancing, playing board games, playing music instruments, doing crossword puzzles, learning new languages, becoming computer literate, and reading. Knitting, walking, doing odd jobs, gardening, and traveling have been proven to reduce risks of dementia.
7. Quit Smoking: Smoking damages the heart by raising blood pressure, damaging blood vessels, and lowering levels of “good” cholesterol. This makes the blood more likely to clot and deprive the heart of oxygen. Smoking has also been known to contribute to memory loss.
8. Maintain a Diet: An obvious way of staying healthy is watching what you eat. Start a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Other recommendations include oatmeal, brown rice, barley, white meat turkey, and low-fat yogurt. In addition to avoiding junk food, you should avoid fad diets that’ll set you up to gain weight once you resume a normal eating pattern. Plus, the fad diets frequently deprive you of important nutrients.
9. Ease into an Exercise Plan: The key word is “ease.” If you haven’t already started an exercise plan, don’t start by running 30 minutes per day. Start slow by walking for 5 minutes. Each day, you can add on a minute, until you finally reach your 30-minute goal. Do not begin an exercise regime before first consulting your doctor.
10. Know Your Body Mass Index (BMI): Your BMI is the combination of your height and weight. When your BMI puts you in the overweight or obese category, you’re at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
11. Keep Cholesterol Low: Take regular blood tests. National guidelines recommend that everyone over the age of 20 should keep track of cholesterol levels.
12. Stay Social: Once you retire, you no longer have the social support system of your co-workers. That could be a difficult adjustment. Ways of staying social are volunteering, joining clubs, and taking classes.
13. Keep Working: Research shows that retirees who take on part-time and temporary work after retirement are less likely to suffer from conditions such as cancer, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. You may even want to consider working from home. In this way, you have a flexible work schedule and can spend the rest of the day playing golf or doing other fun activities. If possible, continue working in your pre-retirement field. This will make the transition even less bumpy.