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5 New Year’s resolutions to adopt today for a healthier retirement

2nd February 2016

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

January may be reaching an end and if you haven’t quite stuck to those New Year’s resolutions as whole-heartedly as you’d planned, there’s still time to take up a few simple habits to ensure you stay happy and healthy in retirement.

Exercise

It may be obvious but exercising is a sure fire way to stay fit and active for longer. As we age, moving about can become a challenge. We may well rely on a home stair lift but even with limited mobility keeping up a few gentle exercises can help to lift our mood and keep us healthy in our later years.

There are a number of organisations that promote fitness for retirees, whether this includes sitting exercises that you can do from the security of specially designed supportive chairs for the elderly or activities that focus on maintaining flexibility, strength and balance as we get older.

Oomph!, for instance, exists to transform the quality of life of older people everywhere through fun, inclusive health and wellness programmes built around exercise and meaningful activities. Through their carefully designed programmes, they focus on combatting the following areas:

  • Poor flexibility and mobility leads to reduced movement and greater likelihood of falls and injury. A third of over 65 year olds fall each year
  • Only 7% of 75+ adults in England get the minimum recommended levels of physical activity.
  • Half of older people consider the TV their main form of company

As they say: “We believe that wellbeing is driven, in older people, by three crucial factors: social interaction, mental stimulation and physical mobility. In turn, improved happiness and wellbeing increase the likelihood of an older person engaging in social interaction and mental and physical activities.”

Oomph! is the UK’s fastest growing network of exercise instructors for older adults. Visiting care homes, community centres and healthcare facilities, Oomph’s professional team brings inclusive and interactive activity classes to the elderly. The result is group sessions that combine fun with fitness goals in a social setting, leaving a positive impact on participants’ long-term health and wellbeing.

Oomph operate across England and Wales, to find your nearest instructor base, visit their map.

Eat well

“Diet, nutrition, exercise and our social activities all play an important role in keeping us mentally as well as physically fit.”, explains Anastasia from the Food for the Brain Foundation.

As we get older, our health and specifically things like the risk of Alzheimer’s can be attributed to our lifestyle and what we choose to eat. Diet and getting the right kind of nutrition are hugely important factors in helping to ward of cognitive decline and prevent further mental impairment. 

Fortunately, making the right food choices to optimise brain health is made easy with helpful tools like the Foundation’s Cognitive Function Test, a free online test that people can do to determine their cognitive score. Once complete, participants will receive a personalised nutrition plan based on their answers and this will help to identify what nutrients they should be getting and other changes they can make to improve their diet.

The Foundation also has a simple Prevention Steps Protocol, six simple steps designed to help older people lower the risk of developing health problems such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia and support their general wellbeing.

Anastasia continues: “We can all make simple changes to support our brains and bodies in healthy ageing and in maintaining our own mental wellbeing. Checking homocysteine levels, as well as simple measures such as staying well hydrated, ensuring we eat a good level of essential fats, eating foods low in sugar and rich in vitamins and minerals, are all vital for optimising brain function and therefore preventing the risk of developing Alzheimer's.”

Get online

Ever progressing, navigating today’s technology is a challenge for anyone, but logging into a computer and getting online can help mature users learn about groups in their community, find more information about mobility products through the internet, and more.

Keeping in touch with the world is another key reason why many retirees want to learn computer skills, and while attending classes could be costly, the Goodwill Community Foundation offers an educational website that can help users become familiar with their computer and confident in using this technology to improve their everyday lives.

It can often be challenging to navigate today’s technologies, and taking classes can take up an inordinate amount of time – and in some cases, money. Fortunately, there are free opportunities for the elderly and others to learn at their own pace.

GCFLearnFree.org features a number of useful tutorials that would-be ‘silver surfers’ can follow at their own pace to learn how to do a number of things on the computer. From searching for information online and using Microsoft Office programs to connecting with loved ones through social media, GCF LearnFree is designed to be simple to use and has videos and other interactive ways to learn alongside text-based articles so users can choose the way that suits them personally.

Director of distance learning, Matt Robinson explains the appeal of GCF LearnFree for a mature audience:

“Seniors are by far the fastest-growing segment of the population joining social media today, and it’s perfectly understandable why.

“Many are grandparents and do not necessarily live near their kids and grandkids, and this is how they stay in touch. We’re here to teach them how to do that.

“We realize that people learn at different levels and in different ways. With our site, our aim is to give users as many opportunities as possible to learn what they want, when they want.”

Make the most of your time

With retirement coming as a welcome break from working life, it can be all too easy to fall into a routine of staying in and withdrawing from the world outside, but these are the years to make the most of your free time and see a bit more of the planet or your home town at least.

Julia from the popular retirement blog Julia’s Place or as she puts it “Musings of a retired but not retiring woman”, draws on her experience of leaving the workplace to offer the following advice:

“Being fairly early in my retirement my biggest tip would be to start planning what you are going to do when you are in your 50s if not sooner.

“Time passes quickly and you think you can plan it all once you have stopped formal work but by then it is often too late to really get going. With a bit of planning about finances, how you will spend your time, how you will replace all those things you loved about work you can make sure your retirement is a really exciting chapter in your life.”

Be prepared

It doesn’t pay to worry about the inevitable, but equally ignoring the future will only exacerbate your concerns.

Get some of the plans out of the way early and you’ll be free to enjoy retirement to its fullest. Assessing your living situation is a good place to start. Your home may be fit for purpose in early retirement but over time the focus needs to shift to future proofing your house, whether this involves simple steps like adding a hand rail to your stairs or installing a walk in bath.

Rights4Seniors suggests that new retirees should also plan financially and speak with an expert if required. Saving if possible will also safeguard against unforeseen events in the future and could enable you to accomplish some big life goals later on.

On the subject of finances, Rights4Seniors also recommends that people get a benefit check from a free and independent advisor to find out what they are entitled to during retirement and how to go about accessing this help.

There are other less practical plans to put in motion too and, as the advice organisation reiterates, keeping fit and eating well can only promote a healthy body and mind. How you spend your leisure time is also key to wellbeing. Whether it’s spent pursuing hobbies, bonding with family and friends, or even volunteering, the activities you fill your time with should make you happy.