These days, there’s a stigma that older people are
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
- 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
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
- Giving Back – volunteerism and leaving a
- Growth – exciting, exhilarating
experiences that exist out of your comfort zone
- Finance – your budget
- Health – your physical, mental and
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
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
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
- Being social protects your cognition and reduces your risk of
- 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
so you can enjoy an active, healthy and engaged life for as long as possible.
In a nutshell, to avoid an unhealthy
- 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
- 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!