For some people, retirement either doesn’t live up to their expectations or is a mystery because they never figured out how to live the rest of their lives. That’s why planning for the non-financial aspect of retirement is as important as planning for lifelong financial security. In order to truly enjoy and maximize your retirement years, it’s important to explore the components of a healthy lifestyle and well-being to ensure you enjoy these years to their fullest.
Post-Retirement Return to Work Is Fairly Common
Retirement isn’t for everyone. Only a little over half of U.S. adults 55 and older were retired as of the third quarter of 2021, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet, that was more than in the third quarter of 2019, when 48.1% of those adults were retired. Even older Americans continue to work. between age 65 to 74—only about 67% were retired.
And some people retire and then change their minds. According to the job site Indeed, the great retirement wave began to slightly reverse itself when “unretirements” began rising. As of March 2022, 3.2% of workers who were retired a year earlier were employed again.
What’s going on here?
For some, higher salaries due to a tight job market likely attracted them. For others retirees, inflation forced them back into the workforce for the extra money. We wonder, though, how many retirees went back to work because it was all they knew. How many Americans unretired because they hadn’t yet considered the non-financial aspects of retirement?
More than Money
We pay a lot of attention to preparing financially for retirement, but we may not put as much thought into what retirement will look like beyond our retirement account balances. When you can live one-third or more of your life in retirement, it’s crucial to learn how to get and maintain an optimal quality of life in retirement.
Prioritize Your Health
Start with your health. The old saying that health is wealth is pretty close to the truth. How you take care of your body creates the foundation to your quality of life in retirement. In retirement, you can continue making smart choices to maintain good health. It’s never too late to get healthier.
So, while you plan and invest for retirement, make a companion plan to invest in your future health and wellness. Start with these habits that are proven to help foster and sustain good health.
. Get Some Sun — As you age, it’s harder to sustain optimal vitamin D levels. Getting some sun each day can help you meet vitamin D goals. And don’t forget the sunscreen. Studies have not found that sunscreen significantly lowers vitamin D intake, and sunscreen has been proven to help prevent skin cancer.
. Get Moving — You needn’t be a personal trainer to get beneficial exercise. Brisk walking 30 minutes a day can go a long way to improving health and fitness. Light to moderate strength training can also pay dividends later in life, improving balance and reducing injuries. Check with your Medicare insurance company to learn if it offers gym memberships as part of your coverage. Explore Silver Sneakers, which offers videos and live age-appropriate exercise sessions, online and in person.
. Get to Sleep — This is nature’s way of healing lots of what ails you. While it becomes harder to get the right amount of sleep as we age, there are some steps you can take to help. Meditate or stretch a half-hour before bedtime. Turn your cell phone—and your mind – off before going to bed. Don’t eat heavy meals at dinner or snack before bedtime.
. Get Thinking — Our brains, like our bodies, need exercise to stay in optimal shape. Learn a new language. Use your less dominant hand to perform tasks. Read new material and solve puzzles. Take a course or two at your local college or university. The more you exercise your mind, the healthier your brain will stay.
“Eat to Live”
Food is sustenance. Eat to live – not the other way around – and keep a balanced diet as an essential part of your health. Improving your eating habits and your health can be as simple as increasing the amount of plants you eat, and decreasing the amount of animal protein and fat.
Start simply by understanding what you put in your body. Read the labels and lean toward minimally processed foods. Avoid fast food or at least limit your consumption of it. Know the difference between the healthy fats your body needs and the more harmful variety. Lower your salt intake, which can raise your blood pressure as you age. Again, avoid processed foods, which is a major contributor of unwanted salt.
If you already cook, learn new, healthy dishes. If you don’t cook, learn how. This can not only improve your diet and health, but can exercise your mind because you’re learning new things.
If the lockdown portion of the pandemic taught us anything, it is that humans long for face-to-face interaction. This is important for both mental and physical health. Maybe you’ll become one of the unretired and return to work. Try a career twist by working for a different organization, making new connections along the way. Join a club where you can take up a new hobby. Join a nonprofit organization where you help others.
And don’t forget to get together with old friends and seek out new friends. If one of those friends is a pet, that works, too. One study finds a pet can help improve balance, cardiovascular health and mental health. Whatever you do, find a cause you are passionate to support. Discover what makes you truly happy and satisfied.
Maintain a Bright Attitude
Optimistic people tend to live longer (and certainly more enjoyably), and gratitude can help brighten your outlook on life. So, ditch the regret – you can’t change the past – and learn what makes you truly happy. Concentrate on all that’s good in life – your family, friends, pets, good health and activities.
Spend time discovering what makes you happy and fulfilled. Make a plan and do the things you want to do, now that you’re in retirement; after all, you’ve spent a lifetime working to get here. You’ll be healthier and, not so incidentally, potentially wealthier since these habits can keep your healthcare bills at bay.