Drop These Unhealthy Habits for a Healthier Retirement

After all these years of work the time has finally come to retire! And it’s a time you want to make the most of right? We bet you’ve planned some things you’d like to do, you’ve likely saved and done some financial planning, but if you’re like many retirees, you haven’t really planned for your health. We’re not talking about healthcare costs, rather whether your current health habits will empower the retirement lifestyle you want or hinder it. If you’re an independent senior with some unhealthy habits, here’s what you can do to get back on track.

Healthy Habits and Life Expectancy

We all know that smoking, alcohol, exercise and diet are key components to your health. But, you may not realize how much of an effect they can have on your longevity. Research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that projected life expectancy at age 50 increases by 14.0 years for women and 12.2 years for men when you follow all five of these habits:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Keeping a healthy body weight
  • Moderate alcohol consumption

Even if you’re past 50, keep in mind that it’s never too late to start. Healthy habits will always reap benefits.

Hidden Health Hazards

You may not think of spending time alone as a bad thing. And it most cases it isn’t. Spending more time by yourself is often a necessity as you age with approximately 29 percent of adults aged 65 and older living alone according to a 2010 Administration on Aging report.

However, when you become detached physically or psychologically, or are disconnected from family, friends and community it’s known as social isolation. The AARP Foundation states that more than 8 million adults aged 50 and older are affected and calls it a “growing health epidemic” in which the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to the dangers of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Social isolation is rarely caused by one thing, but risk factors include:

  • Living alone
  • Hearing/vision loss
  • Limited mobility
  • Limited transportation options
  • Being a caregiver for someone with a serious condition
  • Chronic health conditions 
  • Psychological or cognitive challenges
  • Life transitions such as retirement or the loss of a spouse

Some of the ways to keep connected are to utilize technology to stay in touch with friends and family when you can’t be together in-person, continuing hobbies, learning something new, volunteering and even reconnecting spiritually with nature, meditation or religion.

Healthy Living in Independent Senior Living

One way that you can make it easier to drop unhealthy habits is to move to independent senior living. We’re not talking a nursing home, rather today’s senior living communities are focused around keeping residents as active, independent and socially connected as possible. They offer monthly calendars filled with clubs, classes, events and outings. Plus, with numerous indoor and outdoor common areas, you still have plenty of space to host friends and family.

What’s more, independent senior living communities are often on sprawling campuses with lush green landscaping, beautifully decorated interiors, comfortable accommodations and amenities such as pools, fitness centers, restaurant-style dining and housekeeping and laundry services. It’s this convenient and carefree lifestyle that has more and more retirees moving to independent senior living while they are completely healthy!

For more information on how you can benefit from retirement in independent senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →

Go Play: Easy Ways for Active Seniors to Benefit from Nature

Turns out, you are never too old to play outside. In fact, research has consistently shown that enjoying the great outdoors in your golden years can benefit you in a multitude of ways. But, we also understand how mobility issues, lack of access and/or lack of transportation can create challenges. Here’s why you should make the most of nature and how you can make doing so easier.

Why Seniors Should Get Back to Nature

Whether it’s the breath of fresh air that clears your head or the warm sunshine that puts a smile on your face, nature has long been known to inspire and improve mood. But nature’s benefits go much deeper than that, particularly as we age. Spending time outdoors can literally change your life for the better.

Mental health benefits – A University of Michigan study found that group walks in a natural setting could be a medication alternative for seniors dealing with stressful circumstances, such as loss of a loved one or serious illness. Another study by the University of Minnesota found that being close to water is especially comforting when you’re grieving and can provide a sense of connectedness with deceased loved ones.

Memory benefits – A study published by the Association for Psychological Science found that interacting with nature improved memory performance and attention span by 20 percent because of its restorative effect on our mental abilities.

Physical health benefits – One University of Chicago study found that simply living in a tree-filled neighborhood can help improve cardiovascular and metabolic health in addition to lowering blood pressure and stress levels. Plus, Harvard University found that people with homes surrounded by vegetation lived 12 percent longer, had a 34 percent lower rate of death from respiratory illness and a 13 percent lower rate of cancer death.

Emotional benefits – Social isolation is all too common among seniors and having access to outdoor spaces provides wonderful opportunities to be more active and engaged with others. According to a Kent State University study, social settings in outdoor spaces are associated with positive experiences, increases pride in the community and offers a chance to meet people with similar interests.

Energy benefits – It’s hard to feel energized if you’re home alone and going through the same routine each day. Getting out of the house can help immensely. According to a University of Rochester study, 90 percent of people report increased energy when placed in outdoor activities.

Easy Ways to Spend Time with Nature

You don’t necessarily have to travel far or sign up for the next Survivor season to get the benefit of time outdoors. Here’s how you can make the most of nature in everyday life:

  • Sit by an open window as you enjoy a meal or read.
  • Set up bird feeder within view of a window, porch or deck.
  • Plant flowers that attract butterflies or simply enjoy watching the plants bloom.
  • Make a point to walk to the mailbox each day.
  • Find ways to integrate your hobbies with the outdoors; paint landscapes or simply do your arts and crafts outside; find an outdoor concert where you can enjoy your favorite genre of music; instead of exercising inside, set up your yoga mat on the porch.
  • Invite your family over for a barbeque or the grandchildren over to play outside.
  • If you meditate pick a favorite spot in the yard instead of in the house.
  • If you have a pet, instead of just letting them out to play start taking them for walks.

Nature is a Natural Fit in Active Senior Living

Perhaps you’re still concerned about mobility in trying the ideas above at home or live in an area without easy access to outdoor space. Or, maybe you already do the ideas above and want to go bigger; there is another option: active senior living.

You may be surprised to learn that senior living is well aware of the benefits of nature for their residents and today’s communities are specifically designed to incorporate nature whenever and wherever possible.

On campus you’ll find lush green landscaping, numerous green spaces from gardens to patios and courtyards; even residences with lovely views in many cases. Plus, these communities cater to the mobility needs of seniors with easy-to-navigate walking paths for example.

But it’s not just the campus itself; active senior living communities incorporate nature into daily life as well with activities that incorporate the outdoors such as gardening clubs, walking groups and outings to enjoy local outdoor recreation opportunities. What’s more, many communities are even strategically located near parks. You’ll have more opportunities than you can imagine to enjoy the benefits of nature here!

For more information on how you can benefit from nature in active senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →