Planning ahead: how to stay healthy and happy in future decades

The start of retirement can be a wonderful time: a chance to work your entire life around the people and activities we love. But can it continue that way?

While it’s important to live in the moment, it’s always worth taking stock. Could age eventually hold you back from the lifestyle you want? If so, some simple preparations today could go a long, long way.

Prepare your home

Your house may suit your needs perfectly today, but if you plan to remain there at 90, now is a good time to start thinking ahead.

It doesn’t need to be as extreme as installing handrails on the bathroom and stairway (though that may someday be a wise investment). Start by simply making sure your home is safer and more convenient for everybody in the here and now.

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Is everything you need on one level? Are there any unnecessary steps or potential tripping hazards? If it’s a risk today, it’s only going to get riskier tomorrow.

If you’re eager to take on a renovation project, this is a fantastic excuse to begin changing your house for future needs. Remove or secure your carpet; give your kitchen and bathroom no-skid tiles; start considering where a second bathroom would be most useful.

Prepare your body

No matter how active and fit you are, some vital functions will naturally decline with age. However, some simple awareness and basic exercises can minimise these risks.

Balance is one of the most vital skills we take for granted. If left unchecked, it can quickly fade, drastically increasing the chances of falling as we age. Thankfully, like any other skill or function, it can be kept strong if it’s regularly used and challenged.

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Some low-impact exercises – particularly those in which you bear your own body weight – will help keep your sense of balance strong. Walking, tennis, dancing and tai chi are all extremely effective options. Even gardening qualifies as weight-bearing activity.

These exercises are also essential for keeping your bones healthy. As bone density will decrease past the age of 40, we can become more vulnerable to osteoporosis and fractures. It’s a simple case of “use it or lose it”. The earlier you start preparing, the better.

Prepare your mind

Time and time again, studies have shown a clear link between isolation and depression. As such, an active social life is one of the very best ways to ensure future happiness.

While you may enjoy a lively social life today, it’s worth keeping an eye out for new social groups. The broader your horizons, the stronger your chances of enjoying healthy personal connections in the years to come.

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In fact, any new experience can help prepare the brain for a healthy old age. A new language, hobby or field of study will encourage your mind to create new neural pathways, allowing it to adapt and expand at an age people usually associate with decline.

Not only will these small lifestyle adjustments help you live well tomorrow; they’ll also make life more comfortable, lively and rewarding today. It’s never been a better time to start taking stock.

What do you love most about your life today? What steps can you take to ensure it lasts?

This post was sponsored by the Living Well Navigator. It was written as we feel it offers valuable insights into a topic important to the Starts at 60 community. For more information on how to get the most out of your retirement, visit the Living Well Navigator.