3 Ways to Avoid an Unhealthy Retirement Lifestyle
These days, there’s a stigma that older people are considered boring. It’s no wonder, too, with seniors averaging 47 hours and 13 minutes of watching television every week – yikes!
All that time in front of the tube is a sign that older adults are susceptible to the typical sedentary lifestyle that’s disengaged from the world (even if watching TV makes them feel like they’re engaged).
Engagement level aside, though, this leads to all sorts of unhealthy issues. Just check out these terrible stats on the rise:
- 1 in 3 are touched by Alzheimer’s.
- 1.3 million are living in nursing homes (in the US alone).
- The divorce rate among seniors has doubled since the 90s.
- 1 in 7 baby boomers is treated for depression (not to mention those that don’t get help).
But here’s the thing: Our culture makes us believe that an inactive, sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle is “just the way it is” to age. So much so that it’s one of seven myths about aging that could be holding you back from living your best golden years.
So, how can you counteract a standard unhealthy retirement lifestyle?
Instead of suggesting yet another diet and exercise regimen, I’m sharing three vital ways to avoid an unhealthy retirement lifestyle that most people don’t take seriously – because… the invisible stuff counts, too.
Find More Purpose in Your Life
Bear with me on this one – the first way to avoid an unhealthy retirement lifestyle is to find more purpose, which, of course, is more difficult than it sounds.
And if you think it’s hokey, think again. Finding purpose is so important for your well-being. In fact, research from a study of 136,000 people revealed that people with a sense of purpose in life have a lower risk of death and cardiovascular disease.
What’s more, according to Dr. Peter Attia’s longevity curve, having a sense of purpose is among one of the top contributing factors to enjoying a longer lifespan.
Wondering how to find your sense of purpose?
Finding clarity about what you truly want is a huge foundational piece that most people neglect, especially women who are in their 60s and 70s.
Chances are, you’ve been living a life of duty and dedicating the bulk of your decades to nurturing your family and career, rather than your hopes and dreams.
Unfortunately, that life of duty also means that you’ve learned (very diligently) to put your biggest goals on hold. And now they’re buried way down in a hope chest somewhere and need some serious digging out.
To find clarity, use what I call the “5 Rings of Retirement”:
- Community – your social activities
- Health – your physical, mental and cognitive health
- Giving Back – volunteerism and leaving a legacy
- Growth – exciting, exhilarating experiences that exist out of your comfort zone
- Finance – your budget
How to Use the Rings
Rate your energy level from 1 to 5 (1 being completely zapped and 5 being full of zest) in each of the five categories.
Once you assess your energy level in these five key ingredients of your life, you’ll see very explicitly which part of your life gives you the most energy and which parts of your life drain you.
Practically, this means you’ll have a better understanding of where to focus your attention first.
Finding clarity is just the first step to living with more purpose. If you want to learn more about how to live a purposeful retirement life, this free workshop is a good place to begin.
Be Socially Involved in Your Community
The second way to avoid an unhealthy retirement lifestyle is to add to your social calendar. I can’t stress enough the importance of social interaction for seniors.
Whether friends, family, partners, neighbors, or people in the community (even strangers), social interaction is not only good for your everyday stimulation but it’s also so good for your health.
If you need a bit of nudging, there are numerous science-backed reasons why social interaction is good for your health, especially among older adults. Among some of the highlights:
- Being social protects your cognition and reduces your risk of dementia.
- Being social improves your physical health, lowering your blood pressure and lifting your cardiovascular health. Plus, it reduces your risk of some cancers, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
- Being social is good for your mental health and can save you from depression and loneliness.
- Being social increases your longevity.
Basically, to boost your cognitive, physical, and mental health (plus your overall well-being and longevity), prioritize your relationships and socially engage in your community.
Partake in Lifelong Learning
While exercising your body is an obvious way to maintain your health, your brain needs just as much exercise and attention (if not more).
When it comes to your brain, it’s very true that you either “use it or lose it.”
The good news is, you can rewire your brain and create new neural pathways until the day you die. And one of the most powerful ways to keep your brain active in combating cognitive decline is to practice lifelong learning. And be committed to it.
Think beyond puzzles and games.
To really create new neural pathways and increase your brain plasticity, practice high-level thinking – get out of your comfort zone and learn something new and challenging.
Neuroscientists at the University of Texas at Dallas conducted a study that revealed when older adults pick up new mentally challenging hobbies, they have a lasting increase in memory skills. In other words, high-challenge activities strengthen the numerous networks in your brain.
So, take care of your brain as you would your heart.
In the words of Paul Nussbaum, PhD, director of the Aging Research and Education Center in Pittsburgh:
“Every time your heart beats, 25% of that blood goes right to the brain. But while exercise is critical, it may be education that is more important. In the 21st century, education and information may become for the brain what exercise is for the heart.”
Be Proactive and Start Now (Every Tiny Action Helps)
By taking action now and tackling any of these three areas, you’ll actively set yourself up for a better retirement lifestyle.
It’s truly my mission to help you live a more purposeful retirement lifestyle, so you can enjoy an active, healthy and engaged life for as long as possible.
In a nutshell, to avoid an unhealthy retirement lifestyle:
- Find more purpose. Start by finding clarity and exploring what you’ve put on the back burner for too long.
- Be social. It’s healthy in so many ways.
- Partake in lifelong learning. It’ll save your brain and body from turning to mush.
How do you plan to free yourself from the stereotypical unhealthy retirement life? What steps will you take to be proactive and care for your future (and present) self? Which tip will you tackle first? Please share with our community!