Health Beat – September 2014

HeartDr. Lesley Fernow writes a column called “Senior Matters” for the Piscataquis Observer in Dover Foxcroft. Valley Grange is privileged to have permission to use her past columns for our  “Health Beat” Feature and for the information to be reposted to the Maine State Grange website. Address your questions or comments  to lmf@fernowmedicalhousecalls.com, 207-992-6822. Please note that information is general in nature and specific questions should be addressed to your health care professional.

Not everyone sees that retirement party the same way.  For some, retirement is a well-earned time for rest, for others it can represent a loss of purpose and can cause stress and depression.  Preparing for the next stage in life where your job is not what defines how you spend your time or who you are is important.

Most advice about retirement planning focuses on financial planning.  This is essential if the aging years are to be stress free, and is best started early in life.  Women, who generally earn less in their lifetime than men and live longer, are particularly vulnerable to financial problems as they age.  There are many excellent resources on financial planning, including columns in newspapers and books.

Retirement planning is about more than economics, however.  Many people feel a sense of loss of purpose, loneliness and depression after they stop work.  Since there are often more than twenty years of living left to do after stopping work, it is essential to reframe this phase of your life as an opportunity for continued growth, activity and development in new directions.   The following are tips to help you age well, remain vibrant, healthy and happy after the job years are over.

  1. Set a schedule. Avoid the temptation to sleep in or just see what comes to you as the day goes on.
  2. Identify new hobbies or interests: painting, learning an instrument or new language, reading, gardening.
  3. Consider taking a class to learn new skills or just to learn. This keeps the mind engaged.
  4. Exercise regularly. Try different things: yoga, dancing, swimming.  Mix it up, but do it daily if you can.
  5. Meet people. Maintain a social life.  Find new friends.  Join a club, a church.  Have coffee or go out to eat with people.  It’s important for mind and spirit.
  6. Travel to new places. Try travel and learn programs, or programs where you can travel and give back to a community by building a school or other community service.
  7. Volunteer your time. This not only is great for the community but it gives you a sense of value and purpose.
  8. Don’t feel you need to spend every minute with your spouse (or kids). They will thank you for it.
  9. Don’t count on your body working forever. Find activities that you will enjoy even if the body parts wear out.
  10. Turn off the TV! Monitor your habit of TV watching.  It can be addicting and contributes to boredom and depression.
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