By: Claire Wentz
The key to happiness once you become a senior citizen is much the same as it’s always been. If you’ve always been active and outdoorsy, the best way to stay happy and maintain a healthy quality of life is to keep moving. If you’ve always been more inclined toward intellectual pursuits, you have an opportunity to continue learning and staying mentally sharp by reading, taking courses online, and engaging with others. Enjoying your life means leading a lifestyle that plays to your interests and talents, makes you feel good, and keeps you healthy.
On the move
It’s easy to fall into a sedentary pattern, especially as you grow older. Avoid the dangers of inactivity by continuing with activities you’ve always enjoyed. Regular exercise imparts many key benefits for seniors: It strengthens the heart, helps prevent stroke, and contributes to healthy joints and bones. These are all important factors in maintaining a vibrant, active life. If you’re not as limber as you once were, supplements can be helpful. Consider taking collagen supplements—which strengthen your muscles and add resiliency to your bones—but be sure to research them first to find the best supplement for you.
You don’t always have to go out to stay active; one way to get in some exercise is by getting things done around the house. But like any activity, you should only focus on chores you can handle. If, for example, you have a more difficult time mowing the lawn or doing landscaping work, it’s best to avoid them to prevent injury. You can hire a professional service to assist you with more strenuous home maintenance so that you can focus on activities that improve your physical health. For example, you could hire a cleaning service on occasion, but this will cost between $119 and $233 in Castle Rock.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine explains that although it’s important for seniors to stay mentally active, the kind of mental exercise one engages in is not what’s important. Simply using your brain will help keep it sharp and prevent the mental decline to which so many American seniors fall prey. Reading is one of the best things you can do for your mental faculties. Card games, board games, playing Bingo, or a round of Sudoku are also highly beneficial and enjoyable activities.
Having fun is the key; don’t convince yourself that the only way to sharpen your brain is to take up quantum physics or molecular genetics. Your brain gets a good workout simply by swapping stories with friends and reminiscing about the good old days. However, remember that it’s a lot easier to stay mentally stimulated if you mix it up and try new things, so check into activities that stretch your creative abilities and improve hand-eye coordination, like needlecraft, painting, or photography.
Oral care has an impact on many aspects of one’s overall health. Gum disease and a history of cavities can mean you’re headed for cardiovascular problems. The state of your teeth and gums also has a say in your mental well-being and even gut health. Prevent ancillary mental and physical health issues by checking in with the dentist regularly for cleanings and any other needed work. The average cost of teeth cleaning is $75 – $200, which varies based on your location. But if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan with dental coverage, there’s no reason not to take advantage of it.
It’s a depressing feeling when there’s no one around to talk to or go for a walk with. Or it could be you just need to reach out a bit more to friends and family. You could find someone else who’s feeling like you do. If you’re a senior living alone, social connection is critically important because isolation and depression can have dangerous consequences for older adults.
If you’re not sure where to turn, offer to help family with simple household chores. It’ll give you a chance to catch up once in a while and help busy loved ones. The feeling of being needed and useful will provide important emotional benefits.
Why not ask a group of friends to get together at Starbucks every Wednesday for coffee and some rounds of backgammon or gin rummy? The combination of companionship and mental activity—not to mention a little shot of caffeine—will keep you engaged with the world beyond your front door.
Being a senior is an excellent time to just be yourself while focusing on things you love and people you love being around. You’ll live a well-rounded life and obtain many important mental and physical health benefits.