Concentrate on These Six Areas.
British Clergyman Charles Spurgeon once said that “it is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”
Some people spend a lot of time and effort seeking out happiness – a habit that sticks with them well into their senior years. Others follow the philosophy expounded by Rev. Spurgeon and find enjoyment in everything they do.
Regardless of which kind of person you are, it’s a good idea to take stock of six key areas of your life to help unleash ultimate happiness and fulfillment as you head into your senior years.
Area #1 – Social Status
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Aging, research suggests a positive correlation between social interaction and overall health of seniors. Numerous studies have found that seniors with lower levels of interleukin-6 – an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis – can be found in seniors who are socially active.
The research doesn’t assume that it is the social interaction alone that leads to the higher interleukin-6 levels; instead, it indicates that those who are more social also tend to be more active, which promotes overall health.
It is easy, following retirement, to become socially isolated. Isolation can lead to loneliness and depression, which also has a negative effect on health. Seniors who are unsure whether they are socializing enough can take a quiz similar to this one. If quiz results indicate a lack of social opportunity, some ways to find opportunities in your area include visiting the community senior center and searching online for senior-related activities in your area.
Area #2 – Spiritual Status
Living life with purpose is the goal of many people, especially as they move into their senior years. For some, that purpose is directly tied to their spiritual beliefs. Spirituality doesn’t just play a role in living a purposeful life; it also can have a positive effect on one’s overall health and well-being.
Numerous studies have indicated that those who practice some form of spirituality have increased compassion, empathy and attention spans, and also are able to better handle stressful situations which can negatively impact one’s health.
Spiritual individuals also have greater opportunity for social activity, which as we already explained, is a key component to living longer.
There are a variety of tools online to help seniors and boomers assess their spiritual health. One such tool, designed for those who practice the Christian faith, can be found here. Another spiritual assessment online tool which is not faith-specific can be found here.
Area #3 – Medical Status
Good health can be fleeting, especially as we get older. It is why it is important to regularly assess our medical status, which includes not only our physical well-being but also our mental well being.
Getting regular checkups with a primary care physician is an important part of the process. Visiting a dentist at least once annually, as well as an eye doctor, also is vital to maintaining overall health.
Seniors and boomers who feel they are lacking in the health department can make changes to better themselves in this area. Changing up your diet, and beginning an exercise program that is suited to your current level of physical fitness, are two very important things seniors can do to improve their health. Before starting any new eating or exercise plan, be sure to consult a medical professional.
Nutritionists are great resources for making dietary changes. They are able to fully assess your current eating habits, review your goals for establishing new eating habits and help craft a plan that is convenient and affordable. Personal trainers can help seniors and boomers who wish to improve their physical health.
Online health assessment tools such as this one can help seniors to determine whether they need to make changes in this area.
Area #4 – Legal Status
As we age, many things become urgent, including the need to get legal affairs in order. No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, but as we get older, the likelihood of both happening increases. Having your legal affairs in order – which includes drafting a last will and testament and medical power of attorney – can mean the difference in how things are handled should the unthinkable happen before it is expected.
Personal records, financial records, and other legal documents should be prepared and kept in a secure location, with at least one other person – preferably the person to whom you’ve given power of attorney – knowing their location. Keeping these kinds of important documents in a bank safety deposit box is a great way to protect them. If you choose to keep them in your home, storing them in a fireproof safe is the best way to ensure their protection.
Looking for advice on how to assess your legal status? The AARP is a great resource.
Area #5 – Financial Status
Learning to live on a tight budget can be a reality for many seniors and boomers. Even individuals who plan well for their retirement years can find themselves living from social security “paycheck” to paycheck.
Next to the status of one’s health, financial status is perhaps the next most important to assess. There’s more to managing financial health than simply knowing your credit score and the current balance in your bank account.
There are a number of online tools that can help seniors assess their financial well-being, including:
Seniors who determine their financial health is in need of improvement will find it worth spending the time and money to consult a professional, who can help them to get their financial affairs in order.
Area #6 – Residential Status
Where we choose to live as we age can have a major impact on all of the above factors. Living in the right community can provide easy access to social and spiritual opportunity, as well as having an overall impact on our financial, physical and emotional well-being.
Not sure if your residential situation is ideal for your needs? Consider attending an Upside of Downsizing conference. The conference addresses common obstacles in the downsizing process and provides solutions to unhealthy situations. Estate-planning attorneys, counselors, and home stagers are among the professionals available at the conference.
The next Upside of Downsizing conference is being held on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Portland. Registration information is available here.