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Health in Retirees

Health is a significant influence on our quality of life and for retirees, it’s particularly important.

Wellbeing for retirees is just as essential as at any other stage of life, and devoting time to maintaining physical and mental health is crucial.

This is especially true for the older generations, who will undergo many changes such as declining health and changing living arrangements.

These changes can have a marked effect on wellbeing, so it’s important to remain as active as possible.

Staying active

Continuing to remain physically active can assist in the prevention of diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It also helps control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight, and can reduce the risk of stroke and some forms of cancer.

And it’s never too late to start an exercise program!

Generally speaking, people aged 65 and up should try to perform at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity every day.

This means you’re doing enough to get your heart rate elevated and even work up a bit of a sweat. Examples of this include bike-riding, swimming, and walking at a fast pace.

Forming healthy habits

But it’s also not just about what you ‘should’ be doing.

By taking a collaborative approach, healthy habits can be formed that go a long way to preventing a decline in overall health and wellbeing.

Nancy Huang, Australian Unity’s Chief Medical Officer, says a multi-faceted approach to physical health is essential.

“Developing a good connection with your GP or local doctor is a really good first step,” Nancy says. “This way, you can address risk factors well before they become a real issue.

“By establishing a positive relationship with your doctor, you can help take a holistic approach that ensures you get the best care possible. This is important because it creates good communication that is vital as you get older.

“Secondly, find a support system that can help you navigate what can be a complex health system. By using facilities like health coaches and service referrals, you not only improve your health but you’re also part of a community that helps keep you connected.”

Part of a community

By staying as physically active as possible, seniors can improve mood and self-esteem. This is especially so if they’re participating in a group or as part of a community. By strengthening social networks, seniors can foster a greater sense of wellbeing through building relationships.

The latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey, conducted by Deakin University, has found that retirees enjoy a level of wellbeing that is much higher than non-retirees.

However, the only survey category that rated lower for retirees was ‘health’.

The report’s author, Deakin University Associate Professor Delyse Hutchinson, notes that personal wellbeing appears to increase with age, counterbalancing the negative health effects that come with getting older.

“It would seem that retirees’ wellbeing is highly influenced by their relationships and interactions with others,” Dr Hutchinson says. “This positive connection with others would tend to offset their lower satisfaction with ‘health’, which declines as age-related ailments set in.

“As individuals remain in retirement and continue to age, promoting wellbeing through ‘health’, ‘personal safety’ and ‘community connectedness’ becomes more critical.”

View the full report here