Ah, retirement! The word fills one’s head with images of tanned, happy people relaxing on some beach, drinking tropical cocktails, while on a lovely well-deserved vacation. Or, for the less starry-eyed, it brings to mind the image of people who are winding down and breaking down, all the while getting underfoot and in each other’s way.
It goes without saying, but what the heck, let’s say it anyway, that the latter is not what any of us should be shooting for. While it’s true that the march of time is inexorable and no one gets out of here alive, there are measures you can take to slow considerably that march down (so you, in turn, don’t have to!).
Here’s how to have a happy and healthy retirement.
Get Your Finances In Order
Money can’t buy happiness, but lacking it will sure make you miserable, not to mention limit your retirement options. The article “5 Ideas for Finding the Fountain of Youth in Retirement” correctly points out that stress can age you, and money is right up there on the Top Five Things We Stress About, right?
That means you have to think and plan ahead. Social Security alone won’t cut it, especially if you do want to sip umbrella-decorated drinks on foreign beaches. Start up an IRA or 401K; in fact, many employers offer such plans with some degree of matching contributions.
Put together a financial plan that makes sure that you can pay off all of your debts by the target retirement date. The sooner you do this, the more time you have available to achieve these goals, which consequently means a greater degree of flexibility with a lot less urgency-driven stress.
Get Your Health In Order
Okay, so maybe you won’t be averaging a six-minute mile in a 5K run every other week anymore, but you can still be in good shape, which will add a lot to your quality of life. After all, what’s the use of living a long time if you can’t get out there and do stuff?
As we age, our metabolism slows down. Extra weight exerts stress on joints and muscles (after all, you’re carrying it around all day!), so consider dropping a few pounds and, if you haven’t already, get some exercise on a regular basis, preferably of the aerobic kind. Even walking a mile or two a day, as low-impact as it is, will help. Speaking of using muscles and keeping active …
Keep Your Brain Working
Have you ever heard of “use it or lose it?”. Studies have shown that people who continually engage their minds have a decreased risk of age-related brain issues such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. A constantly engaged brain is a healthy brain.
Consider Working Some More
Okay, hold on, we’re not talking here about staying at that soul-crushing desk job indefinitely! Rather, there are some activities you can do at home that can help bring in a few extra bucks here and there. Maybe it’s writing if you have the knack and the talent, or selling some craft or other things you make with your hands. You could even get a part-time job at a local business that deals with something that you have an interest in, like having a flower enthusiast working at a florist, for instance.
Act Your Age? Whatever For?
Are you aware that there’s no actual book or guide out there that outlines what behaviors are appropriate for any age? Should you stop doing the things that you are still perfectly able to enjoy just because you happen to have personally witnessed the Earth revolve around the sun at least fifty times?
The mind is the most effective physician you’ll ever have, and if you convince yourself that you’re getting old and should slow down, well, guess what will happen. On the other hand, if you decide not to let a little thing like a number stop you …
Face it, no one wins the battle against advancing age, but you can make sure you don’t give up any ground without a fight. Fortunately, if you have a happy and healthy retirement, even the struggle can be enjoyable.