Maintaining a Healthy and Happy Life in Your Golden Years
What do you want your golden years to look like? Many people would like to age in place in their comfortable home, pursue hobbies or meaningful causes, and connect with family and friends. Thanks to a combination of cultural shifts and advancing technology, it’s more possible than ever to stay independent and have a fulfilling lifestyle. However, you’ll need to plan ahead to get the most from your senior years.
Plan Your Finances
You can’t buy happiness, but a certain amount of money can buy comfort and peace of mind. The best time to get a financial plan in place is right now. What will you need to budget for as you age in place?
Is there technology that could make your finances easier to handle? Simple ideas to streamline things can include automatic and online bill payments, e-receipts, two-factor authentication on your banking information, automatic backups of your computer files.
You may need to budget for home remodeling (see below) and long term care insurance. This insurance kicks in if you have a serious accident or medical emergency. It may cover the costs of your hospital stay, home nurse visits, physical rehabilitation, and more. This can save you a major headache down the line as well as preserve your finances.
Prepare Your Home
One advantage of moving into a senior living facility is that it is automatically senior-accessible. But if you plan to age in place, you’ll want to bring these amenities into your own home. The amount of effort and money this requires will vary depending on your health needs and what your home already has.
On one side of the scale, you might just need a minor upgrade like grab bars in the bathroom, lever style door handles, or carpeting over slippery hardwood floors. What if your house is multi-story or you have limited mobility? What about a medical alert system for the home? You may be looking at more significant renovation. This could include front-loading washers and dryers, a walk-in shower, and wheelchair-friendly doorways and ramps.
For help planning a senior-friendly house remodel, AARP has published this home safety checklist.
Build Your Network
According to the National Council on Aging, relationships with family and friends are more important to seniors than finances. A strong community can enrich your life, reduce depression and anxiety, and even act as a safety net.
If you don’t have a rich community, it’s never too late to build one. Seniors who combine households with other family members have a built-in social network. However, you can also connect with people via videoconferencing and social media platforms. Other great places to meet similar-minded people include church, distance education classes, meet-up groups, and volunteering.
Speaking of combining households, this is a growing trend in America. Research suggests that 64 million such households are multi-generational. These households can offer advantages such as kids bonding and learning from their grandparents, working parents getting help with chores and bills, and seniors getting the support they need to maintain their independence.
Arrangements like these can be a win-win, but moving in together is always a big change for everyone involved. How do you make this a smooth transition?
Discuss, discuss, discuss. Who will move where? Will a home remodel be needed? Who handles which chores? How can you ensure everyone gets personal time? Keep those communication lines open to troubleshoot problems and build strong family bonds. And you may want to consult your legal and tax professionals for the best ways to handle combining portfolios between the generations.
Get Proactive About Wellness
Health is a cornerstone for happiness and energy. You should find some hobbies to stay happy as a senior. These hobbies can be especially helpful if you are physically active.
Your doctor will have specific advice for you, but in general, get regular check-ups, manage any chronic health conditions, quit smoking and drink in moderation, if at all. Be sure to eat a nutritious diet and aim for a health weight range, manage stress in healthy ways, and exercise for at least half an hour, 3 times a week (unless your doctor says otherwise).
When it comes to exercise, follow the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Senior! You don’t need to join an expensive gym. Just walking around the neighborhood or the local park brings benefit to the heart, bones and brain.
Emotional wellness is an often neglected part of wellness. It’s all too easy to slip into a rut. If you do get the blues, be proactive. Reach out to loved ones or your therapist. Take on a new hobby or learn something new. Finally, sometimes the best way to help ourselves is by helping another. Many seniors find volunteering very rewarding.
Smart technology has a lot to offer seniors who want to age in place. Simple wearable technology is affordable and non-intrusive. With a plethora of options, be sure to check the review sites for the best fit for your needs.
Or you may choose to repurpose your smart phone with various apps for booking a ride, food and item delivery, video chatting with friends and family, and expanding the list to include medication reminders. You can even use GPS trackers and emergency alert functions, or integrate with medical tech such as insulin pumps. And virtual assistants like Siri can do everything from updating your schedule to playing an audiobook. It’s a mix-and-match world for your many technology options now.
Be sure to explore your telehealth options. This tech allows you to videoconference with your healthcare team for certain services. That saves you a long and exhausting trip to the hospital.
Aging in place can be a big transition. However, this is also an opportunity for you to create a truly rewarding life. That life plan for your senior years takes care of details like health management and staying in an accessible home. This frees you to focus on what matters most, from furthering your education to building memories with your family.