Staying Well in Retirement
No amount of retirement planning will guarantee the physical health necessary to enjoy your Golden Years. Taking care of ourselves mentally, physically, and socially is important at every phase of life.
Health and wealth go hand-in-hand in our later years. In order to take advantage of the financial freedom you carefully built during your working years, you need to prepare for wellness in retirement now.
Below are a few ways to maintain or even improve your overall wellness as you enjoy your time of financial independence.
The Definition of Wellness
According to the Global Wellness Day organization, wellness is “a good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity.”1 The idea of wellness goes farther than physical health; it encompasses every aspect of your quality of life - mental health, social well-being and physical state. And while developing a retirement plan can help ensure your financial wellness is covered, it’s up to you to take care of the rest.
Wellness in Retirement
We’ve broken the biggest areas of wellness down into three categories: mental health, social well-being and physical state. Below are the reasons why each area is important in retirement and what you can do to maintain or improve on it:
The temptation to turn your brain off during retirement can be strong. Considering you’ve spent decades problem solving for 40+ hours a week, the idea of relaxing and unwinding in front of the TV or along a sandy shoreline can be very appealing. But in order to stay mentally well and ward off cognitive decline, it’s important to incorporate mental exercises into your daily retirement routine. Staying sharp and keeping an active mind in retirement can help you to enjoy it for longer.
One way to keep your mental health in check? Consider taking on a new job in retirement, even part-time. According to the American Psychological Association, a 2009 study revealed that those working in retirement had levels of well-being in both health and overall satisfaction on par with people not yet retired. Beyond providing a sense of purpose, working in retirement has proved in some cases to ward off cognitive decline and diseases. A study of nearly half a million retirement-aged participants showed that for every additional year worked, the risk of dementia was reduced by 3.2 percent.2
Other activities to help your mind stay sharp in retirement could include:
- Picking up a musical instrument
- Learning a new language
- Doing puzzles & games
- Staying socially active
Isolation and loneliness are growing issues in America, especially among older adults. And entering into retirement is a time when one’s social well-being may become compromised. Leaving a job means leaving coworkers you see every day, and if you choose to move to a retirement community, you may be leaving long-term neighbors, community friends and even family behind.
Isolation can leave you feeling completely detached from your friends and family, both physically and psychologically. It’s something more than eight million adults over the age of 50 experience, and prolonged isolation can have the same health impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.3
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to find social fulfillment in retirement, but they require effort and initiative. You could try:
- Finding a roommate
- Taking or teaching a class
- Pursuing a hobby or passion that takes you outside the house
The saying “use it or lose it,” definitely rings true when it comes to maintaining physical wellness in retirement. Older adults are already declining physically. As our bodies grow older, we face physical changes such as slowing metabolism, weakening immune system and loss of muscle mass. Just like with mental health, you may be tempted to enter a state of permanent relaxation in retirement. However, it’s important to stay active. Doing so can help prevent both physical and cognitive decline, both of which can dramatically reduce your overall well-being.
Some ways to stay physically well in retirement include:
- Joining an exercise class
- Gardening and maintaining your yard
- Adopting a dog
- Enjoying walks around your neighborhood
- Creating (and sticking to) an exercise routine
When you are intentional about maintaining your overall wellness in retirement, those years can be some of the greatest of your life. And while you can work with a professional to ensure your financial well-being is cared for, it’s up to you to make sure the other aspects of your life are following suit.
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This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information and provided by Kelly Financial Planning. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.