Savour your golden years

If you have retired from service, keep your mind occupied and body active. Adopt a positive attitude and devote time to meditation, writes Preetinder Kaur

Savour your golden years

Forget your worries and enjoy a peaceful post-retirement life Thinkstockphotos/ Getty Images

WHAT to do after retirement? A brain that is not challenged to learn new things for an extended period, will actually become smaller and less capable of learning in the future, according to Richard Stim, author of Retire Happy. Have you thought about what you will do when it is time for you to retire from your job? Most people at 65, the typical age of retirement, are hardly ready for the rocking chair these days. Retirement can be a time to do all the things you didn’t have time to do when you were working. For example, playing a daily round of golf or travelling. Others decide to keep working, either by choice, or because either they didn’t put away money for retirement, or their investments didn’t do as well as they hoped. For those who plan to keep working, retirement can be a time to explore a new career. Another option for those who stop working for pay is volunteering.

Many people look forward to retirement because they no longer have to worry about getting up in the morning and heading to work every day. Despite not having to go to work, retirees don’t want to sit back and do nothing because boredom can set in. People try to find things to do after retirement; so they feel that they have a purpose in life, or do things they have been unable to do because of work.

Many people give little thought to how they will spend their time in retirement. After all, the biggest use of their time — working — will be no more. While many retirees report a near honeymoon-like period for the first six to nine months of retirement, many report an eventual urge to become more productive in retirement than they had anticipated.

What do you want from your retirement? Short of an around-the-world trip for $1,000, there are no wrong answers to that question. After all, it is your retirement. But think about your personality. If you are the type of person who loves to be alone, perhaps good books, newspapers and TV will bring you long-term happiness. But extroverts — with the same financial resources — might be miserable to spend consecutive days alone. As such, they may be more likely to enjoy (and possibly need) other activities in their lives.

Those who have achieved true financial independence have no need to work; others may find that a few hours here and there do increase their financial security.

People can relax or take vacations after retirement. Some people prefer exploring their state or country or taking the opportunity to travel internationally. Many couples take a second honeymoon as a way of reconnecting after busy lives of working.

Doing volunteer work keeps retirees involved in the community. They can volunteer with their church, community centres, schools or animal shelters. Retirees can use their expertise to help people in the community, such as assisting in literacy and community-educational programmes, providing free financial and tax services, tutoring at schools or coaching children or adults.

Retirees should keep their minds active; so try taking a class at a local community college or university, enrolling online with a university or checking books at the library. Some persons with college degrees pursue advanced studies or take up something new like a foreign language, while others complete unfinished degrees. Visiting local museums teaches retirees about the history of their towns or cities. Join local writing groups or book clubs to keep the mind active.

Elderly people should remain physically active after retirement. The American Academy of Family Physicians says that older adults who regularly exercise decrease their risks of developing age-related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Physical activity should consist of aerobic exercises, strength training and flexibility activities. Those who were active before retirement can keep doing the same activities. Inactive people can start with light activities such as walking and water aerobics, tai chi, pilates and weight training with dumbbells. Retired people can take to activities such as golf, tennis, hiking, rock climbing, biking or dance lessons.

You can adopt a pet as a way of getting a new companion and helping an animal get a new home. Pets can also become part of an exercise routine because they need to be walked. The Pets for the Elderly Foundation cites new research that found pet ownership reduces a person’s risk of heart disease.

Although anxiety usually comes in with the elderly, try to counteract the worries and enjoy life instead. Every morning is a new day; do something that would keep the spirit alive.

Avoid heated arguments and emotional conflicts. Have a regular cardiovascular check-up with the family doctor. Quit smoking, and drink alcohol moderately. Spend quality moments with family and enjoy being around with grandchildren as well as taking time to have some coffee moments with valued friends who had been there through the years.

Have a regular schedule of giving yourself time alone without the noisy distractions around. Take time to reconnect with your own self and just enjoy the serenity by meditating peacefully in silence. Keep the religious faith within and reconnect the soul to the divine spirit. Meditation and prayers can keep the mind healthy and rejuvenates the soul.

The writer is a project assistant in the IIT, Ropar

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