Healthy Aging: The Biggest Threats To Your Health and How to Beat Them

As we age, we tend to be increasingly concerned about our health. It’s a different story than when we were young and rebellious teenagers, sniffing at the patronizing advice from our elders, and basking in the confused belief that we’re going to live for ever. Someone has yet to prove that this is possible, and all we can do in the meantime is to try to take care of the vessels we have been given.

 

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Coming to terms with one’s mortality is one thing – but realizing that we can actually do something to prolong our lives is an entirely different, and altogether positive feeling. So, here it is; the top things you can do for your health today, to enjoy the sensation of an active body and a sharp mind for as long as possible.

 

Keep your friends close

 

An amusing and eye-opening article in Boston Globe tells the story of a middle-aged reporter who was assigned a task because he was ‘perfect for the story.’ It was supposed to cover the topic on how the lack of a stable and rewarding friendship has become one of the biggest health concerns for men. Needless to say, the reporter tried in vain to convince himself that he was indeed not the perfect candidate for the story.

 

As we grow up, establish a family and suddenly feel the time-crunch closing in, we tend to spend less time with our friends rather than decreasing the time we devote to our children – which makes sense. The only danger is that when you get older, and the kids leave the nest, many middle-aged men find themselves quite alone.

 

One study even found that the long-term risks of being lonely can be as severe as those of smoking cigarettes.

 

Even though we can try to fool ourselves all we want, the verdict is clear. Loneliness is seriously dangerous to your health and can increase the risk of strokes, cardiovascular diseases, as well as Alzheimer’s – which could all have been prevented if we just put aside a bit of time for our friends.

 

Leave your bad habits behind

 

Now that we’ve covered the effects your mental well-being can have on your physical health, it’s time to get down to business. Smoking and obesity are, of course, the biggest health concerns for us in old age – right next to loneliness. It’s not enough to continue to make the same new year’s resolutions, trying to quit smoking, or befriend your scale – you need to dig deeper than this to beat the bad habits.

 

It’s difficult to cover everything you can do to change your brain patterns and form healthy habits, so let’s keep it simple; to change your ways, start by visualizing the benefits you’ll enjoy by cutting down on smoking, for example. Write it down, memorize it, and try to compensate by moving over to e-cigarettes instead – especially if you’ve been smoking for a long time.

 

Have a look at this article for an in-depth read on changing your habits and remember that to succeed, you need to make a conscious choice every day to change the patterns in your brain.

 

Why not team up with some of your friends and embark on a new and rewarding lifestyle together? It will be good for all of you, that’s for sure.

Guide to Broaching Difficult Subjects with Your Elderly Parent

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Raising difficult subjects with your elderly parent is never easy. You don’t want to upset them or make them feel incapable. However, if you have started to notice that your parent is not coping as well as they once used to, either mentally or physically, it is important to talk to them about it so that you can come up with a solution. Of course, you are worried that you will damage their self-esteem or wound their pride, but ensuring they are healthy is the most important thing. Plus, there are ways you can approach the subject in a gentler manner. With that in mind, read on to discover how to raise difficult issues with your elderly parent, as well as some of the topics you should be raising.  

What sort of issues should you discuss with your parent?

Before we reveal how to broach difficult topics with your parent, let’s first take a look at the different issues you should discuss with them.

  • Managing their affairs – You may want to consider a power of attorney if your parent has been ill or is finding it difficult to manage their own affairs. A lot of people assume that this is a step that is only taken when someone is not well enough to know their own mind. However, it can often be beneficial to discuss this before you reach that stage. There is two power of attorney options – finance and health. The former means managing financial affairs on their behalf, and health means making medical decisions on their behalf. If you have siblings, you should consider holding a joint power of attorney with them, as this can easily be a source of sibling conflict.
  • Your parent’s living arrangements – The time may have come to assess your parent’s living arrangements. Should they live with you? There is a lot to consider, including whether it is the right environment for them, if they want to live with you, if your home can be adapted if needed, if you have the time to assist them, and how it will impact your family life with your children and your relationship with your partner. You need to be honest with yourself – don’t make a decision out of guilt.
  • Whether they can live alone – If your parent cannot cope at home, it may be time to discuss either getting help at home or moving to an assisted living facility with experienced professionals that will give them the care they need to manage their health. This is important if your parent needs rehabilitative assistance, as well as if they are struggling to manage in their home, for example, if they find it difficult to move around, get showered, and get dressed, if they feel lonely and isolated, and if they are nervous about living alone.

How to raise difficult issues with your elderly parent

The issues mentioned above can be difficult to raise with your parent. You don’t want to risk offending them or making it feel like you are trying to take their independence away from them. However, it is important to broach these subjects for the sake of their health. So, how do you go about it? Here are some top tips to help you out:

  • Make sure the situation is a relaxing one – When you do bring up a difficult subject with your parent, you need to ensure that the situation is as relaxing as possible. It needs to be private enough for you to have a sensible conversation, so make sure your kids aren’t running in and out. Nonetheless, you don’t want your parents to feel pressured or worried; so don’t build it up into a big, serious event.
  • Be prepared to listen – You may think that you have it all planned in your head already, but it is important to listen to your parent and accept their point of view. It is their life after all.
  • Manage the process gradually – People do not like change, especially when they get older. This is why you need to manage this as a gradual process. Take things step-by-step.
  • Revisit conversations – As you need to handle things gradually, you need to be prepared to revisit conversations a number of times. Your parent must have time to think on their own about the suggestions you have made. Don’t expect an instant answer. People are less likely to respond positively when they feel like they are under pressure.
  • Think about your parent’s view before you have the conversation – Before you sit down to have a conversation with your parent, think about their likely viewpoint and possible objections. By planning this in advance, you will be able to answer them knowledgeable and calmly. You may even be shocked to learn that they have already thought about the issues you are raising, and they may have solutions that you had not thought about previously, so be prepared to listen to them.
  • Discuss the issues with your siblings and any other key family members – It is important to discuss the issues with your siblings and anyone else that is close to your parent. Don’t turn this into a huge family discussion. Your parent won’t want to feel like everyone has been discussing them behind their back. Only keep immediate family members involved. You need to ensure that you and your siblings are all on the same page before you discuss things with your parent. The last thing you want is a family dispute on top of everything else.

All in all, there is no denying that broaching subjects such as living arrangements and power of attorney can be extremely difficult. However, if you have reached the stage whereby your parent is struggling to cope, it is imperative to have such difficult chats with them. Instead of diving straight in, make sure you use the advice above. Plan for the talk carefully, make sure you are in agreement with your siblings and, most importantly, listen to what your parent has to say.

Retiring Into Old Age Successfully

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We don’t realize it, but retirement is a game. And, like all games, there is a winner and a loser. Now, no one likes to lose because winning is fun and addictive. But, no one wants to lose at retirement because a loss can have a major impact on the rest of your life.

 

There is no doubt that you don’t want this to happen. After all, our golden years are supposed to be the time when we enjoy the fruits of decades of hard labor. Still, it happens to people all of the time, and it happens because they are ill prepared.

 

As such, you have to be ready if you want to win. And, to do that, you have to know the tricks of the retirement trade. So, here is everything that you need to know to retire into successful bliss.

 

Good luck.

 

Be Mentally Prepared

 

The biggest mistake everyone makes is to assume that retirement isn’t a big deal. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it is a huge deal because your life is about to change forever. Yes, the idea of slowing down and pottering around the garden is appealing, yet it is still a transition. Indeed, when was the last time you took the time to relax? Exactly, and now you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, which can be intimidating. To avoid any scares, you should try and get used to the idea. Then, there is no need to wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. People often focus on the physical, yet the mental aspect of retiring is just as important.

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Continue To Work

 

‘What?! I’m never going to work again!’ Okay, you have every right to think this way, particularly after 40 years of hard work. However, not to be critical, but it is a little short-sighted. Although working hasn’t always been enjoyable, it has given your life structure. And, sweeping that structure from under your feet is a recipe for disaster. It is no secret that the golden generation suffers from boredom, and working is one way to relieve the monotony of life. Plus, it adds value because it gives you something to look forward to every week. Of course, it is your decision how much to take on because you are not fully employed. Still, one or two days should break up the week nicely.

 

Stay Physically Active

 

Again, ‘letting yourself go’ is another benefit of quitting work and getting old. But, again, it isn’t a good idea if you want to win the war as well as the battle. Staying healthy is the key to a long and happy life, and that never changes. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how many dues you have paid in the past. Your body still needs maintaining, and exercise is the only method that works. Now, there is no reason to get down with the kids because that is too much. But, there are ways to get the blood pumping without encouraging a heart attack. Walking is the ultimate example, as is gardening. Try and opt for activities that are active but not too strenuous.

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Get Your Finances In Order

 

Anyone that doesn’t work full-time has to be financially savvy or else retirement could be more of a nightmare than a dream. One thing you have to understand is that your earning potential has limits. As a result, it’s imperative to use what you have to your advantage. To do that, you need a working total of all your assets, and you need to write them down. Next, work out your expenses and how much you pay out every month. The total that is left is your overall budget and the trick is to stick to it as much as possible. Sure, there will be some expenses that are bigger than others, yet these are the anomalies. On average, your monthly payments must hit a certain figure. If the number is too low, consider cutting back. It isn’t nice, but it is necessary.

 

Consider Living Arrangements

 

An example of cutting back is moving out of your home. Let’s face it – a house is expensive and may be too big for your needs. The logical thing to do is to downsize or consider the alternatives. For example, living with one of your children may be on the cards if they have the room. Or, moving into a residence with in-home care facilities is also a popular choice. Whatever you decide, it’s essential to be logical and analytical if possible. No one likes the idea of leaving their home, especially if it has sentimental value. However, sometimes it is the only option if your finances are not in order. Hopefully, you’ll be able to keep your independence for the foreseeable future, but you shouldn’t assume that to be the case.

 

Talk It Through

 

The important aspect of a successful retirement is making an informed decision. Usually, this can’t happen without having a conversation with the people you love. Quite simply, your life and theirs are intertwined, so your actions impact their lives. As a result, you need to sit down and inform them that you plan on retiring. That way, everyone can bounce positives and negatives off one another and cover all of the issues. It may be that you’re not ready to quit work for financial reasons, or you’re only doing it because you think it is right. At least when you have a discussion, you will realize if it is the right move or a mistake. Don’t forget that people do make retirement mistakes all of the time, and you don’t want to be another statistic.

 

Finally, don’t do it too early. The idea of retiring and emigrating to somewhere hot is always appealing. However, it also means you have a lot of time to sit around and do nothing. Even if you work part-time and look after the grandkids, it is still a long time.