Life changes as we get older.
To some, turning 65 means retirement and the freedom to travel. To others, it means less income, social interaction and purpose…and more boredom. Growing older may also mean a decline in physical health. And when health or other issues interfere with your ability to care for yourself, it can harm your mental health, leading to unhealthy emotions, such as depression, anxiety and isolation.
That’s why it’s important to take measures every day to maintain or improve your physical and mental well-being.
Increases in daily activity can have a big impact on your physical health. Try these tips:
- When watching your favorite TV program:
- March in place during commercial breaks.
- Use a 3- to 5-pound hand weight to do arm exercises. If you don’t have weights, use two canned goods or a gallon jug filled with sand, rice or water to your tolerance level.
- Lift one leg at a time and trace each letter of the alphabet in the air with your foot. Alternately, do A-L with one foot and M-Z with the other.
- Rake and weed the yard or plant a garden (talk to your doctor first because this activity can be strenuous, and remember to drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen while outdoors).
- Put on your favorite music and dance like nobody’s business! Grab a partner or hold on to the back of a chair for support; just get your body moving.
- Join a health club. Most Peoples Health plans offer a membership to a network fitness center (check your Evidence of Coverage to see if your plan has this benefit; and remember, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program).
- Try exercise classes or equipment, such as a treadmill or stationary bike.
- Try swimming. If you can’t swim, hold on to the side of the pool and kick your legs behind you, or stand in the water and march or bounce up and down.
- Walk anywhere and everywhere! Swing your arms and breathe deeply. Set your own pace and goals.
- Walk around the shopping mall, around the block, to the mailbox or to the convenience store.
Staying connected to the activities and people you enjoy is good for your mental health.
Some life changes affect your mental well-being, such as the loss of a loved one or the growing distance between you and your children as they become busy with careers and raising families of their own. But being active and around others can help. Remember that depression is not a normal part of aging.
If you have feelings of sadness or hopelessness for an extended period of time, talk to your doctor. Together you can develop a treatment plan.
Try these tips to find activities you enjoy:
- Attend religious services or events and meet new people.
- Volunteer to rock babies in a nursery or help out in an elementary school.
- Invite a friend over to sample a new recipe.
- Host a game night or potluck.
- Learn to play a musical instrument.
- Join a book club.
Taking care of your overall well-being also means getting the regular preventive screenings you need. Talk to your doctor about your personal risks.