8 Ways You Can Set Yourself Up for the Senior Life Possible
As the years go by, it is natural that aging becomes a concern. You may know people who are struggling through their senior years, dealing with physical limitations or financial insecurity. If you want to enjoy your senior life rather than worry, the time to get ready is now. Here are eight ways that you can plan for a happy and healthy senior life.
Physical activity now can help you as you age. As the laws of physics say it, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. By maintaining your cardiovascular health, you can delay some of the common effects of aging. While you may never be as fast and energetic as you were in high school, you can maintain bone strength, joint health, and heart health through regular exercise. Take a walk with a friend. Take a hike in the woods. Pull your bicycle out of the garage and hit the road. Run your first 5K race. All of this will keep you moving for years to come.
Losing some range of motion is natural as you age. It becomes more difficult to reach, stretch and twist. This can lead to back problems, pulled muscles and limited mobility in your senior years. In order to keep doing your regular activities, you need to be intentional with maintaining flexibility. A yoga class is an excellent way to work on body flexibility and balance. Stretching in the morning and before and after exercise are also good ways to keep your body loose. By staying flexible, you will prevent common injuries and recover faster from those that occur.
Due to heart health concerns, much of the news regarding exercise focuses on cardiovascular routines. While cardio is essential to long-term health, it is also important to remember the need to maintain strength as you age. Most people assume that there will be a decline in muscle tone and strength as you get older. However, much of the perceived decline is due to lack of use rather than necessity. Simple bodyweight exercises such as pushups and squats can maintain your current level of muscle tone. Going to the gym and working out with higher resistance can help you increase your strength even as you age.
Eat for Wellness
When you were younger, you may have been taught to consider certain foods as a treat or reward. You may have chosen less healthy options because you enjoyed the taste, often due to an abundance of sugar and fat. As you grow older, your attitude toward food will need to change. While treats are fine in moderation, you want to start thinking of food primarily as fuel. What foods will keep your body healthy and active? The advice for healthy eating remains the same for every age. Eat whole fruits and vegetables with healthy fiber. Enjoy lean proteins and dairy products in moderation. Minimize processed foods and added sugars. Let water be your primary source for hydration.
Like physical exercise, mental exercise is important as you prepare for your senior years. After you retire, you will have more time to learn new skills or pick up new hobbies. You can take classes for the simple thrill of learning something new. Now you should focus on maintaining neuroplasticity, the ability of your brain to make new connections and retain new information. Challenging and engaging your brain can improve this function and slow decline. Another important factor in mental maintenance is getting enough sleep, which gives your brain time to reset and restructure each night. A rested brain is a healthy brain.
Have a Financial Plan
One of the greatest fears around aging is running out of money. Many people wonder if they have enough saved to enjoy life after retirement. If you are not saving regularly, it is time to start. The earlier you begin setting money aside to retire, the more you can let the power of compound interest work in your favor. Working with a financial planner can help you define your goals and your needs as you age. Having sufficient funds will give you more options about where you live and what lifestyle you can maintain.
A difficult part of growing older is the loss of community. After you retire, you will not be as connected to your friends from work. As time passes, you may find it harder to maintain relationships as you and the people you are close to deal with illness, disability, and loss. Close friends may have to move to be near family. Others may move to a more favorable climate for health reasons. It is not unusual for seniors to experience loneliness. One strategy to prevent being alone is actively seeking community. You might participate in a religious or service community. You might seek a club centered around a personal interest. Such communities can continue to welcome and support you even after your retirement.
Have a Mission or Focus
Many people struggle with a sense of purpose after they retire. For much of your life, your career has taken up a good portion of your day. If you had children, a good part of the rest of your time was determined by their schedules. By the time you retire, most of those restrictions have gone away. Some people fall into despair, feeling like they have nothing to do. A healthier attitude is to approach this time asking, “What will I do next?” This is where establishing a personal mission can make a difference. If you see your mission as helping local children, then you can act as a mentor in the school system. If your focus is experiencing new cultures, you can shape your retirement around that passion. Having a mission or focus can help you make decisions on the next steps toward a fulfilling life.
For the best senior life, you need to start preparing mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. Healthy and wise lifestyle choices now will benefit you far into the future. Your future self will thank you for your efforts.