For baby boomers who are planning to retire in the near future, good physical health is essential for being able to fully enjoy this next phase of life. Being proactive about maintaining good health can help us thrive in our “golden years.”
The Mayo Clinic recommends that we educate ourselves about the natural changes that are common during this period of our lives, and be as proactive as possible in preventing changes we may prefer not to go through. Preventing these changes will help enable us to continue living independently at home, continue driving safely, and reduce the risk of dangerous falls.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “It’s never too late to make healthier lifestyle choices.” Following are recommendations the clinic suggests to reduce, and often prevent, the common changes of aging:
Heart health: As we age, our heart rate can slow down, and vessels and arteries can become stiffer. Recommendations for maintaining a healthy heart include daily physical activity, a healthy diet, not smoking, reducing stress, and getting 7–8 hours of sleep each night.
Bone and joint health: Bones shrink and weaken as we age, muscles lose strength, and we have a harder time balancing. Recommendations include getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, daily physical activity, not smoking, and not abusing alcohol.
Digestive health: Constipation is common among older adults. Recommendations include a high-fiber diet, drinking enough fluids, daily physical activity, and not resisting the urge to have a bowel movement.
Urinary health: Incontinence can occur as we get older. Prevention includes maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, doing Kegel exercises, and avoiding bladder irritants such as caffeine, acidic foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages.
Memory health: Memory loss and fogginess are common as we age. Prevention includes daily physical activity, a healthy diet, not smoking, keeping blood pressure at a healthy level, staying mentally active, and keeping up with social interaction.
Vision and hearing health: As we age, our eyes have more difficulty focusing and become more sensitive to glare. Our hearing diminishes and we have trouble hearing higher pitched sounds, and following conversations in a noisy room. Prevention includes wearing sunglasses on sunny days, wearing hearing protection when around loud sounds, and getting regular eye and ear checkups.
Skin health: Our skin becomes thinner, less elastic, and more fragile with age. We tend to get dry skin, wrinkles and age spots. Prevention includes bathing in warm (not hot) water, using mild cleansers and moisturizers, using sunscreen, and not smoking.
Weight health: As we get older, muscle mass tends to decrease and fat takes its place. Prevention includes daily physical activity, a healthy diet, and practicing portion control.
Sexual health: Desire, enjoyment and performance ability decline as we age. Talking with your partner and doctor about your concerns and options can help you find solutions.
Always consult with your doctor to develop the best and safest plan for your present health conditions as well as your future goals. It’s never too late to make changes to help ensure a healthy retirement.
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