Maintaining emotional and intellectual fitness is critical for healthy aging. People who are socially and emotionally isolated live a shorter life of poorer quality than people who are active in their community do. The following tips and resources can help you on your way to maximizing your later years.
Challenge Yourself Mentally: Exercise your brain by going back to school, participate in elder hostel programs, or take a course. Read, use the Internet, play board games and solve crossword puzzles.
Keep Emotionally Fit: Stay involved with friends, neighbors and your community. Stay connected through volunteer work in your community or at your church or temple. Offer to help out at a local school or hospital. Or, provide part-time consulting expertise.
Stay Physically Fit: Do what you enjoy doing, always consulting with your physician before beginning a new exercise program. Walk, swim, take aqua aerobics classes, bicycle, and lift weights.
Make and Keep Appointments with Your Doctor: Get checkups appropriate for your age group. Particularly if you have multiple chronic medical conditions, it's important to have a primary care physician who can coordinate your care. Write down questions and concerns to take with you to your visit. Jot down any symptoms you are having. Keep up with immunizations, such as flu shots.
Drive Safely: As we age, our reflexes get slower. If some driving situations are hard, such as at night, at rush hour, or on highways, avoid these types of conditions. Like all good drivers, don't drive under stress or when you're tired. Keep distractions, such as the radio, to a minimum. You may want to check out the American Association of Retired Persons Driver Safety Program or the American Automobile Association's Safe Driving for Mature Operators course.
If you are finding that other drivers often honk at you, you have had some accidents, or have had family, friends or doctors express concern about your driving, please think seriously about whether or not you are still a safe driver. Although giving up driving can be isolating, it can cut your costs (the cost to own the average car is over $6500 per year). Public transportation, community transportation, and taxi costs will probably be cheaper.
Manage Your Money Wisely: Consider using the services of a professional financial planner whom you trust, if managing money is not your forte. Don't divulge confidential information to strangers, nor count on "get rich quick" schemes.
Control Incontinence: Neurological, medical, psychological and environmental factors can all cause incontinence, the inability to control your bladder. Take measures to help control incontinence: drink plenty of fluids (which may seem counter-intuitive), use the bathroom before leaving the house or going to bed, lose weight, exercise, avoid caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol. Also check with your doctor about whether any of your medications may be contributing to incontinence.
Eat Wisely: Older people are at an increased risk of health problems from poor nutrition. Learn about nutrition and low-fat, low-cholesterol foods. If you are having difficulty preparing meals or shopping for food, consider a meal delivery program, shopping service, on-line food delivery, or hiring a home health aide to assist you. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs can direct you to local community resources.
Keep Your Home Environment Safe: Tack down loose electrical cords or throw rugs. Be sure your home is adequately lit. Check to see if smoke detectors are in working condition.
For additional information about healthy aging, and for elder care resources, take advantage of the LifeBalance® program, provided by your life insurance benefits. Members of the Indemnity Plan, PLUS Plan, Indemnity Medicare Extension Plan (OME) and Commonwealth PPO also have EAP benefits and comprehensive web site resources through United Behavioral Health (access code: 10910). If you are a manager or supervisor with employees preparing for retirement, Sue Cooper, the GIC's EAP Coordinator provides complimentary seminars on easing into the transition of retirement.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.