15 Activities Retirees Can Adopt to Look and Feel Younger
We can't all be like former president George H. W. Bush jumping out of airplanes when we are 90. Still, there's no reason to abandon the life and activities that have made us who we are because we might not be as agile as we once were. In fact, it's important for people over 65 to continue living active lives to assure healthy older age. At retirement, most people are fully capable of continuing activities as they have always done, but as they age, physical limitations may present new challenges. To stay healthy -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- into your later years, here are 15 ways you can easily adapt your daily routines and lifestyle as you get older.
Getting enough exercise, according to the World Health Organization guidelines prevents falls, increases bone mass, lowers the possibility of cardiovascular events, and increases cognitive function. This doesn't mean that you have to suddenly take up running. Walking is a perfectly good way to get the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week. People who are runners or hikers, who find these activities too strenuous as they age, can turn to walking, cycling or another lower impact exercise as an alternative.
Sports enthusiasts may find that they can still indulge their passion for pursuing athletic activities -- they may just need to adjust them slightly. There are Senior Olympics and senior rankings in the Ironman triathlons. Keep in mind, however, there is a greater likelihood of injury from high impact sports as we age. For most of us, sports need to be adapted to a more low impact version, that will still keep athletes moving. Play doubles tennis instead of singles, instead of a full game of basketball, either shoot hoops if there are no rotator cuff injuries, or do lower impact cross training.
Working with the earth is beneficial to your health in a variety of surprising ways, including easing stress, elevating your mood, offering good excercise and even boosting your immune system with beneficial bacteria in the soil. Leaning over a garden bed to dig, plant or weed, however, may become more difficult as knee or back problems develop. Gardeners can continue their activities by planting in a raised bed that are easily reachable without bending, and accessible from wheelchairs. If you're feeling handy, you can easily and very cheaply build your own raised beds or they can be purchased.
Studies have shown that social interaction is the strongest indicator of a long life, as illustrated by this TED talk. Strong connections such as frequent get-togethers with family and close friends are important, but so are having face-to-face conversations on a daily basis with people in the community. Whether it's your neighbors, the mail person, employees at the supermarket, or even the barista at the local coffee place, it's vital to leave the house and develop relationships in your community. Not only will those talks provide important mental and social stimulation, but if the time comes when it's difficult to get out, people will be more motivated to visit.
Everyone wants to feel, at any age, that what they do has purpose and value. Work provides a shared purpose and offers inherent value. In retirement, though, we sometimes need to actively seek out opportunities to feel valuable. Volunteering is a way of sharing the wisdom and skills that retirees have been gathering all during their lives. Organizations such as SCORE give those with a business background the opportunity to mentor small business owners, former teachers can become literacy tutors, and people with leadership or DIY skills can work with Habitat for Humanity locally or across the world.
People who love to explore the world can still do so as they age, but they may want to scale back the more challenging aspects by joining groups that take care of everything from hauling luggage to arranging for meals. Road Scholar trips allow seniors to take educational vacations, including travel with grandchildren. Voluntourism is a cheap travel option that offers people in other countries the professional experience gained through a lifetime of work. Projects Abroad has group trips for two-week volunteer opportunities for those over 50 throughout the developing world. Projects include caring for children in need, teaching English, and working on conservation projects.
Skin and facial pigment changes as we age. And then, of course, there are the lines, wrinkles and dark circles that may develop over time. Makeup artists explain that a lighter touch looks more natural, that concealer should be used below the eye area, and a warmer foundation brings back some of the color that time and nature have removed. Liquid eyeliner won't pull at skin, and use a lip brush to keep lipstick from bleeding into wrinkles around the mouth.
The older we get, the more our faces change. Some parts get loose and sag, others get heavy. The skin all over our bodies gets thinner and less supple, and more prone to drying out. Without even considering injections of Botox or plastic surgery, older adults can still maintain healthy looking skin. Moisturizers should be used liberally, but they don't necessarily have to be expensive. It is also helpful to avoid hot baths and showers, use sun protection, have a humidifier going all winter, and drink lots of liquids to keep skin well hydrated.
Work life provides an instant social setting that retirement removes. People whose social lives were tied up with their jobs find that retirement can be detrimental to their health, particularly if they are also dealing with bereavement. It may be outside of your comfort zone to develop relationships that used to happen automatically, but alleviating loneliness is a great reason to overcome that. Community centers, local community colleges, and libraries offer groups that retirees can join that align with their interests, and give them the opportunity to meet new people as well.
A house is full of memories, and most people have a sentimental attachment to theirs. However, when the nest is empty, it might be time to think about moving -- even if the mortgage has been paid off and it seems economical to stay. Large houses with multiple floors get increasingly difficult to navigate as people age, and the maintenance costs of a house will continue to accrue, which could become problematic if income is fixed. Keeping it clean may become more of a difficulty and keeping a lawn in shape can become more of a chore. It's hard to sell a family home, but it may be worth considering to avoid difficulties down the road, says AARP.
People who think that their kids will be delighted to inherit all the family furniture, heirlooms, and tchotchkes need to think again. Increasingly, say lifestyle experts they don't. And thus is born The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning wherein people, as they age, get rid of more and more of their accumulated stuff, so that no one else has to do it once they pass on. Enjoying life with only the essentials is a bonus to the de-cutterer as well.
Many people find that it's easier to live in a city when they get older. An apartment is easier and cheaper to maintain than a house. Places with public transportation top living in an area where driving is essential for when driving yourself is no longer an option. Access to better health care and entertainment resources can also be an added bonus. In the city, there are more services geared to seniors, more cultural advantages, and more opportunities to enjoy life with people who share a desire for enrichment, learning and other experiences.
There are many educational opportunities for older adults where they can delve into topics of interest in greater depth, especially when they have more time thanks to retirement. Of course it's possible to take classes online, but as long as it's possible to leave home, take them in person to increase social interaction and discussion possibilities. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is called "lifelong" for a reason -- for a very low fee, members over 50 can take classes and workshops, join study groups and attend activities. There are over 120 of these at institutes of higher learning throughout the US.
Even people who've never used weights in their workouts before should start as they age. It helps to maintain muscle tone, prevents falls and assure that everyday tasks will continue to be easy to do. It also, some experts feel helps mature folks who have put on some pounds, to lose them. Those who have been doing strength training for years might consider doing more reps with less weight, say some weight lifting coaches.
Older adults have different nutritional requirements than they did when they were younger. Starting to change their diet while they're still young-ish will reap benefits when they get older, as well as helping now. Experts say that the greatest challenge is to get complete nutrition while taking in fewer calories, since older bodies don't need as many as younger ones do. A variety of whole foods is the key. Older adults require more protein which helps protect against muscle loss, healthy fats with Omega-3's decrease risk of heart attack, and calcium along with Vitamin D help prevent osteoporosis, to name a few.