Protect your health


Along with retirement comes new found time and freedom to pursue a wide variety of activities and interests. Many retirees have a plan for their financial wellbeing, yet physical, mental, emotional wellbeing is as important for a successful retirement as are the financial considerations. While the research shows that staying active is important for good health, there is much to be said for embracing a proactive approach to health and wellness around mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing, especially given the fact that you may have more control over your time at this point in your life. Whether you are thinking about becoming more proactive about your health, or have already decided to do so, the information on these pages will provide you with clarity and direction.

Am I right for this?

10 yes/no questions to help you determine if this is a good direction for you

Do I believe there are steps I can take to protect or improve my physical/mental/emotional wellbeing?

Do I have concerns about my future health?

Are there any specific issues related to my mental or physical health that concern me?

Am I willing to make a commitment to a physical exercise regimen?

Am I prepared to follow the guidance of a qualified and relevant healthcare professional?

Do I believe my physical, mental, and emotional health are interrelated?

Am I willing to invest my time and money in a wellness program?

If I make a transformation to healthfulness, will I have the support of my spouse/partner/household members?

Have I had a physical checkup in the last 12 months?

Do I have access to in-home exercise equipment, a gym, or an exercise-friendly outdoor environment?

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If you answer six or more “yes,” this is probably a good direction to pursue.

Most common physical health risks for people over 55

  • Cancer risk, especially breast, colon, prostate
  • Hearing loss
  • Weight gain
  • Skin changes
  • Heart troubles
  • Brain changes
  • Vision concerns
  • Bones and joints
  • Sleep quality
  • Blood pressure
  • Bladder control
  • Immune system
  • Teeth

Ways to stay one step ahead of physical health problems as you age

  • Get all recommended screenings
  • Get all recommended vaccines especially for pneumonia, shingles, flu
  • Exercise
  • Eat mindfully
  • Limit salt, sugar and saturated fats
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get sufficient sleep
  • Have an active and robust social network
  • Establish a relationship with a primary care physician

Ways to achieve or maintain mental and emotional health as you age

  • Have a positive outlook
  • Have an attitude of gratitude
  • Live in the “now”
  • Respect the past
  • Be optimistic about the future
  • Live and let live
  • Be generous
  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Have a pet
  • Smile often
  • Journal


Here are questions and answers that address common issues and concerns for those interested in protecting their health.


How do I know if I need a geriatric doctor vs. a regular primary care physician?


Both types of doctors can treat a wide variety of conditions; a geriatric specialist will have expertise in the issues associated with older people, typically 65-plus. Some reasons to consult a geriatrician are: If you have multiple medical conditions, if treatment for one condition negatively affects a second one, if you are experiencing functional decline or physical frailty or if you are managing multiple medications.


To what degree is my mental/emotional health likely to impact my physical health?


Research shows that persons with mental/emotional health issues are more likely to have a preventable health problem. Your mental health can impact the ability to motivate yourself to live a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and mindful eating. Our emotions are often connected to physical symptoms such as having a headache when we are sad and dealing with an upset stomach when anxious.


What is the connection between staying active and my physical/mental/emotional health?


Physical activity is good for your body and for your mental outlook. Exercising releases feel-good chemicals known as endorphins inside your brain. Exercise also helps improve your happiness by breaking the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety. The Mayo Clinic reports physical exercise can improve mood and reduce anxiety. Just ten minutes of brisk walking boosts mental alertness while helping create a positive outlook. Exercise can include daily routine activities such as gardening, washing your car, even cleaning your house.


Should I engage a wellness coach or manage my wellness program myself?


If your exercise program would benefit from additional discipline, encouragement, and also fitness expertise, having a personal trainer for a fitness coach may be right for you. Trainers provide accountability and motivation from a professional who has a vested interest seeing your complete workouts that are appropriate to your age, physical condition, and goals. Of course a good trainer knows how to push you beyond your comfort zone -- and when to stop before pain or injury occurs. Check with your healthcare professional before engaging in any rigorous exercise program.


What are the best physical exercises for people over 55?


Aerobic exercise, strength training, balance, and flexibility are the recommended exercise protocols for people over 55. For most of us, the risk of heart attack is low, and the correct exercise program is going to be beneficial for your heart. Use common sense. Stay hydrated. Start slow. Stop if you feel lightheaded, dizzy, nauseated or feel tightness or pain. As for joints, WebMD has a study showing people over 60 with arthritis in their knees have less pain and better joint function with exercise. You must always begin an exercise program with the consent and involvement of your physician or primary health care provider.


What are the best ways to manage my emotional and mental health?


There are many steps you can take to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Meditation, including mindful breathing, is among the most common, with physical exercise close behind. There is also a link between nutrition and emotional wellness. Staying mentally stimulated, having a strong social network, and maintaining positive thoughts will all contribute to mental health.


If I haven’t paid attention to my physical health over the years, is it too late to start?


It’s never too late to start taking care of yourself, realizing of course that you should begin slowly and build up. As noted throughout this section, it’s important to have the consent of your healthcare provider. There are dozens of low impact exercises and activities that will contribute to physical wellbeing. You don’t have to become a triathlete to make gains in this area. Any activity that involves movement is good for you. The important thing is to stay physically active, mentally positive and nutritionally balanced.

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Assess this option against the following eight criteria:

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Next steps:

Step 1

Determine if it makes sense for you to move forward to protect your health based on the “Is this Right for Me”section.

Step 2

Make sure you have a healthcare practitioner, ideally a primary care physician, who monitors your health.

Step 3

Get all recommended screenings for your age.

Step 4

Consider if you want to focus on physical, mental or emotional – or all – areas of wellness.

Step 5

Consult your healthcare advisor(s)to determine a suitable exercise program.

Step 6

Consider if you want to engage a personal trainer.

Step 7

Consider if you want to buy/activate in-home exercise equipment, join a gym, or exercise outside, i.e. running, cycling.

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