Reaching your golden years gives you a freedom you’ve never had the opportunity to experience before. Unfortunately, it is not without its downside, and you’ll need to pay extra attention to your health in order to live your best life. From staving off depression to ensuring that you’re enrolled in the right Medicare plan, taking control of life after 65 can feel like a full-time job. However, the good news is that with a little legwork and a few changes to your daily habits, you can revel in all of the benefits of retirement.
Manage Your Mental Health
Even if you’ve been happy-go-lucky your entire life, depression in older individuals is common. However, according to the National Institute on Aging, it’s not a normal part of the aging process, but it is one that you have to pay attention to if you want to keep yourself healthy.
While there’s no way to ensure that you won’t experience events, such as the loss of a spouse, that might trigger depression, there are ways to counter it. Start by staying in touch with your friends and family; even a simple video chat can make you feel closer to your loved ones. Being lonely will only exacerbate feelings of sadness. Further, you can keep your mind mentally engaged by reading books and working puzzles.
If you find that, despite your best efforts, you still feel persistently sad or empty, or find that you have less energy and difficulty concentrating, schedule an appointment with a therapist to help you manage the symptoms of depression and free yourself from its grasp.
Your insurance needs change with age. When you were 25, you may have only visited the doctor once per year (or less). Now, your best bet is to maintain an open line of communication with your physician. This involves, at the very least, a yearly exam. If you have heart disease, diabetes, or a family history of dementia, you’ll also want to visit your specialist annually.
If you are already receiving Medicare benefits and have a Medicare Advantage plan, double-check with your doctor each year to ensure they are still in your network. If you are still receiving original Medicare, you may still have time to change your coverage. Medicare Advantage plans are provided by well-known private companies such as Aetna and may even offer additional benefits for things like dental and vision health.
Focus on Fitness
One thing your doctor will likely ask is how much exercise you receive on a regular basis. If the answer is “none,” they will encourage you to get physical. Walking, swimming, and dancing are excellent activities to introduce you to exercise. You may find that you would prefer a more vigorous form of exercise, and one that offers you a chance to socialize. Karate fits the bill perfectly and comes with the added benefit of giving you life protection skills.
Eat to Your Health
As you age, your body changes, and so do your nutritional needs. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that seniors often require more calcium and vitamin D, fiber, B vitamins, and potassium. Make a point to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and stick with lean proteins and whole grains — in other words, unprocessed foods. You don’t have to monitor everything, but avoid boxes, drive-through lines, and anything labeled low-fat.
You don’t have to overhaul your life to get — and stay — healthy. You can control your health and well-being by making changes to your daily habits. Exercising, eating well, and staying in touch with loved ones can go a long way, so start with these actions. You never know what adventures are out there, and being healthy is the best way to ensure you can enjoy them.
Jason Lewis is a personal trainer. In 2002, he became the primary caretaker for his mother after her surgery. Through this process he realized the need for trainers that can assist seniors. He worked with his mother’s doctor and other personal trainers to create programs focused on the special health needs of those over the age of 65.http://strongwell.org
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