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Retirement Wellness Tips: How to Stay Physically and Mentally Active

Maintaining good wellness habits is crucial at all ages, giving us the energy and health to accomplish all we can. In retirement, it’s no different: Keeping up with positive health habits empowers you to keep up with active schedules, helping you enjoy your retirement even more.But what does positive wellness look like, exactly? Here are five steps you can take – starting now – to boost your wellness habits. 

1. Focus on Good Sleep

There’s a myth that older adults need less sleep than younger adults. Not true. What’s true is that sleep habits can be harder to maintain as you get older. In fact, nearly half of older adults experience at least one symptom of insomnia a few times per week.

The goal is to get about 7 to 9 hours of sleep to feel refreshed and to keep your immune system strong. Getting enough sleep also helps cognitive function; by giving our brains a break each night, they’re sharper in the morning. But this can be easier said than done. Medications, restless leg syndrome, worry and soreness can all cause insomnia, although not all people experience the same symptoms. 

The good news is that good sleep hygiene habits become a big help to many people who struggle to get adequate sleep. Try to make a few adjustments to your daily routine:

  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature
  • Have just the right amount of blankets on the bed
  • Read a paperback in bed or listen to calming music
  • Keep a glass of water on the side table
  • Don’t eat late-night snacks
  • Avoid afternoon naps

If these steps don’t work, speak with your doctor. Your doctor might advise other methods, prescribe sleep medications or suggest a CPAP machine to help with breathing.

2. Have an Annual Wellness Visit

Preventive services, combined with treatments for chronic conditions, can help you feel your best and let you stay mobile. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force lists many of the senior health services you should consider getting during doctor visits. You can get a free Welcome to Medicare preventative visit during your first year with Medicare Part B. After that, you can get one free wellness visit each year.

COVID-19 has changed the lifestyles for many older adults in New Hampshire and all across the country. Taking precautions are crucial for stopping the spread, but they shouldn’t discourage you from accessing necessary medical care. If you don’t need hands-on treatment, consider a telemedicine virtual appointment that lets you see your doctor through the computer or a smartphone. You can also send your doctor questions through a health system portal. Whether in person or over a screen, it’s important to stay in contact with your doctor and team of wellness experts.

3. Enjoy a Healthy Diet

Nutrition is important for everyone, but how the body absorbs nutrients changes with age – and with those changes come changes in diet recommendations. If bodies don’t absorb nutrients as efficiently in older adults than younger ones, then it becomes more important for older adults to eat a healthy, nutritionally diverse diet. In addition, older adults tend to eat less due to reduced metabolisms, and this means you might not get all of the nutrients you need. Try to focus on certain foods, like the following:

  • Varied proteins: lean meat and seafood, beans, eggs, peas
  • Fruits and vegetables: fresh, frozen and canned options are all good choices
  • Dairy: low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Whole grains: Whole grain bread and cereals, brown rice

Fiber-rich foods help with your digestion, potassium-rich foods help with your cardiovascular and circulatory systems, and protein-rich foods help with your muscle strength. Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D work together to build stronger bones and muscles. Vitamins D and E help to support your immune system and reduce the risks for some diseases, and the B vitamins help with cognitive and nerve function.

You can try out the USDA Food Patterns or USDA ChooseMyPlate Sample Menus to help put you on the way to wellness. 

If you’re having trouble with meal time nutrition, talk to your healthcare providers. They might recommend a few supplements to help you get the nutrients you need.

4. Boost Your Mental Health with Activities 

Staying physically active means staying mentally active. Your brain changes with age, and some adults develop cognitive issues from protein and plaque deposits. This can lead to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association states that anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of older adults live with some form of mild cognitive impairment. 

To help your brain stay strong, set aside time each day for a brain boost – even if it’s just for ten or fifteen minutes. Here are some enriching activities that help sharpen memory and focus. While some are suited to one person, many are designed for social fun.

  • Work on a jigsaw puzzle
  • Read an exciting novel
  • Try out an interactive online game
  • Start a trivia group
  • Play a video game
  • Work on arts or crafts
  • Learn a new language 
  • Teach yourself digital photography
  • Try your luck at bingo
  • Treat your brain to a logic puzzle

COVID-19 is making group activities a challenge – but not impossible. Many trivia games and book clubs meet over video chat software, and free apps offer language classes in almost any language you can imagine. 

5. Have Fun with Exercise  

Regardless of your mobility and fitness level, you can benefit from physical exercise. Not only does exercise help strengthen muscles and bones, but it lowers your risk for chronic conditions, improves your mood, supports better sleep and helps your brain get more nutrients and oxygen. The National Institute on Aging even found a startling connection in a recent study between our physical and cognitive well-being: Exercise may reverse age-related cognitive decline.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults 65 and older get about 150 minutes of exercise each week. However, you can adjust your goal for your personal health conditions and what you feel comfortable doing. 

Try to incorporate a variety of activities into your week:

  • Tai Chi
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Water aerobics
  • Strength exercises
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Jogging
  • Brisk walking
  • Yoga
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Squash
  • Bowling
  • Curling

Pursue Positive Retirement Wellness at Havenwood Heritage Heights

If you’re ready to transition to a retirement community, you know that location matters. Havenwood Heritage Heights has the joyful community you want with the professional wellness support you seek. Our campus walking trails are the perfect place to stay active and enjoy nature during all four seasons. Indoors, you’ll love our swimming pool, fitness center and exercise classes designed to support all activity levels. We also offer exciting programs like dance classes, hiking clubs and craft clubs. 

Havenwood Heritage Heights is proud to be located in beautiful Concord with its many parks and nature trails. To visit our campus and take a tour, please give us a call or complete an online information request form. You can even take a virtual tour. We look forward to telling you how Havenwood Heritage Heights can offer you a welcoming home that supports your retirement goals.

By Alli Koch