Health is the most important thing, and you’ve got to hold onto it, especially with all those plans you have for retirement. This is the time to kick back and enjoy yourself now that work is over and you have the freedom to make the best of every day. Whether that means traveling, long walks on the beach or just chilling at home, you won’t be able to do it if you’re held back by illness.
One way to help yourself is to adopt a self-care regimen. Though highly misunderstood, this term refers to everyday practices to nurture your well-being, and they include eating right, exercising, and finding time to relax. Here’s a closer look at these practices and what you should do to stay on top mentally and physically, so these years are truly golden.
Start with Healthcare
You healthcare coverage plays a major role in your ability to take care of yourself. Learning everything you can about your current Medicare plan may give you a better idea of holes in your coverage, and a supplemental plan can help you fill them. Plans like Medicare Advantage can help you keep up with your prescriptions, and get dental and vision care when you need it without high out-of-pocket costs. Plans and benefits vary by state, so do your research before you sign up.
Cook Balanced Meals
The right amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients will ensure your body and mind stay spry. You should also make sure they’re not too large, as your metabolism has slowed down since you were younger. How many calories you need now depends largely on your size and level of activity, though it’s generally between 1,600 and 2,000 for women over 50 and between 2,000 and 2,800 for men. Chefs for Seniors recommends cutting back on added sugar and adding more beans, nuts and seeds to your diet. This can all be done through careful grocery shopping and preparing your meals in advance to meet these requirements.
As you get older, your body water content decreases, putting you at increased risk of dehydration, especially during the hot summer months. To make sure you’re getting enough water, eat fruits and vegetables rich in water like watermelon, cantaloupe and cucumbers, which shouldn’t be too difficult as they’re delicious and nutritious. Also, carry a water bottle with you and take sips from it regularly rather than only when you’re thirsty.
The need to stay active is no secret, and the basic principles remain the same as when you were younger: Create a routine that mixes cardio such as walking, biking and swimming with strength training. The latter doesn’t mean series of squats and bench presses at the gym, though weights are an option. Another option is yoga, which is gaining in popularity among seniors as it’s wonderful for reducing joint pain, as are low-impact exercises.
Learn to Chill
Believe it or not, this is hard for some people, especially if they’ve been working in a high-charged profession their whole lives. If that describes you, getting the relaxation your mind and body require may take a conscious effort, which is impossible if you don’t set aside your electronic devices for an hour or two each day. Meditation is an excellent technique for reducing stress and finding that elusive state of calm, and it has the added benefit of lowering the risk for some age-related illnesses.
Quality sleep can be elusive for many people over 65, often due to changes in schedule following retirement or a phenomenon known as nighttime waking, which is exactly what it sounds like. If you’re subject to these or other problems, there are measures you can take to get the rest you need, and these include going to bed according to a strict schedule, avoiding naps during the daytime and limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
There are many reasons for this, but the greatest is that it provides much-needed mental stimulation to keep your mind sharp and ward off dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, says Synergy HomeCare, and there’s much more to it than that. Reading is an excellent way to reduce stress while expanding your vocabulary, exploring new ideas and staying abreast of trends and events. You may want to try a Kindle so that you can increase the text size if you have trouble seeing the print in books.
By adding these practices to your daily life you’ll wake up every morning full of energy and ready to make the best out of each and every day, with a clear mind and a heart full of hope. That’s the way to live, so say yes to self-care and your health.
By Jason Lewis
As a personal trainer specializing in the senior population and the primary caretaker for his mother, Jason is passionate about the mental health and wellness of seniors.