This month our guest blogger is Karen Weeks from Elder Wellness.

Karen wanted to share some ideas to age happily and healthily as we age…

We look forward to retirement and the “golden years,” but for many people over the age of 65, those years aren’t always golden. Or, at least, they aren’t as stress-free and relaxing as we came to expect. Some studies show that one in three seniors has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or addiction. We work too hard all of our lives to retire without joy and celebration. Fortunately, there is hope — and plenty of it. You can age happily and in good health.

Make modifications to your home: You need to properly protect your physical well-being by ensuring your home allows you to safely and comfortably age in place. After all, if your home can’t accommodate you as you age, then it doesn’t matter how healthy or physically fit you are. So, take a look around your home and check for ways that could make things safer as you get older, both now and in the future. This could include adding things such as grab bars in the tub, non-slip flooring in the bathroom, and a convenient walk-in shower.

Take an online class: Keep your mind stimulated by learning an exciting new skill while keeping up with technological advances by taking an online course. You can become a musician, artist, or writer, or take online courses that enhance your knowledge of the world, experience other cultures or deepen your spirituality.

Exercise with a friend: Get social and fit at the same time. Many seniors with Medicare have access to SeniorSneakers classes including yoga, spin, and water aerobics. Find a buddy to go to class or enjoy lunch together after. If you don’t like the gym you can simply strap on your sneakers and go for a stroll with a friend in your neighborhood or a park.

Start a new hobby: What is something you have always wanted to do? Now is your chance to do it. Staying healthy in mind and body during your golden years can be easy with a new hobby. Try quilting or knitting, especially good for arthritic hands. Golf is a great hobby for older folks looking to improve mobility and cognition through eye-hand coordination. There are many options out there good for both your mental and physical health.

Participate in a community garden: Not only can you bring fresh, local vegetables to your own table, you can also help others in your area do the same. A community garden gets you moving your body, thinking about your meals and working with others. That makes it good for neighbors, the environment and you.

Volunteer for a good cause: You have more time in retirement—that’s time for yourself, your loved ones, new adventures and causes you care about. If you are an animal lover, you can volunteer at your local adoption shelter. For older adults who want to help other seniors, you can participate in a meal delivery program or volunteer with hospice care. You could even combine your love of helping others with your love of family by becoming a volunteer in your grandchild’s school.

Become a dog walker: Why not make a little spending cash while you exercise and help others? Being a dog walker is a great way to stay motivated to exercise in your golden years. Plus, interacting with dogs has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and boost memory and critical-thinking skills in seniors. As a dog walker, you get all of these benefits with less responsibility than being a dog owner.

Take a cooking class: Whether you want to cook healthier meals at home or learn new and exotic cuisines, a cooking class is a fun way to stimulate your mind and body. You can go alone and make a new friend, take a few fellow seniors and discover new recipes together, or bond with a family member.

Make healthier lifestyle choices: Quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and eating out less are choices that you can make right now that will add good, healthy years to your life. If you have some habits you’d like to change, now is the time to focus on them.

Our senior years can be an exciting and adventurous time in our lives, but it that doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges and setbacks. If you are thinking of retiring, starting one of these habits now can help ease the transition and make sure you have a sense of purpose in your golden years. If you’ve already retired and have been feeling melancholy or anxious, don’t assume that’s just a natural part of aging. Try a new class to stimulate your mind, volunteer to feel a sense of purpose and exercise to feel good in your skin.

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