What to Expect in Retirement

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The only way to really understand what it is like to live the retirement life is to do it. You might read books and blogs to get a high level overview of what to expect. Friends and family may have helpful input based upon personal experiences. And there are more courses and classes than you can shake a stick at. All of this information can provide some guidance as you begin to navigate your retirement journey. But no one who has gone before you will have lived retirement in exactly the same way you will.

Our freedom to pursue what we love while building the custom retirement closest to our individual definition of perfection is a gift. Imagine creating a “job” description for yourself that includes only those things you love. As a retiree you can set your own hours, spend your time doing what you want, avoid unnecessary stress, answer to no one and look forward to tomorrow. How does that sound?

Although your journey will not exactly mirror my own I want to share a few noteworthy discoveries made over the last four years spent in the trenches (aka retirement).

Taking responsibility for your own inspiration

It is a sad fact that some retirees all too soon find themselves disappointed. When high expectations are not met boredom and frustration can follow. And yet there are others who revel in their days. They are busy and engaged and often cannot find enough time in the day to get everything done they want. One difference is they do not wait for the world to inspire them. Instead they seek out excitement and new experiences forever on the lookout for new avenues to explore. It is not always easy to find inspiration to live life to the fullest. But waiting for something to come along is not a good course of action. I do my best to use my imagination, explore my dreams, try to stretch beyond any self-imposed limitations and go for it. So far so good.

Feeling more at peace with life

Many retirees find retirement to be a safe port after the storm. There is a lot to be said about finally arriving at the doorstep of our second act. Most of those stresses that consumed us in earlier years are behind us. We need no longer struggle with the pressures of the work scene. The family is for the most part (hopefully) raised and independent. We no longer feel the need to prove our self to anyone other than our self. And we have blessed free time to spend as we choose. Where in earlier days it was easy to let all the little things get to you, retirement seems to thicken the skin a bit – we learn not to sweat the small stuff especially when beyond our control.

For many, retirement can be the happiest time of their lives. Leaving stress behind and enjoying the moment can be just what the doctor ordered. I am learning to go with the flow and try to focus on the positive.

Watching expenses more closely

A reality of retirement is you must live within your means. According to  a recent study by BMO Wealth Management 35 percent of Americans over 55 consider debt reduction their biggest financial concern. If you were budget conscious before you retired the transition should be relatively painless. Just keep doing what worked for you on your way here. If balancing the books was challenging in the past there is some good news. You will no longer have to deal with certain expenses like education, mortgage payments (roughly one third of Americans 55 and older have paid off their homes), commuting costs, business clothes and 401k deductions. The bad news is healthcare costs have the potential to more than make up for many of those discontinued fees. I am learning in retirement the importance of balancing and prioritizing, of spending on what is most important to health and happiness while cutting back on extravagant or unnecessary things. So far it is not that difficult – just takes a little extra effort.

Humoring those friends not yet retired

Although I am retired not all of my friends are so fortunate. It should not be surprising that an occasional pang of jealousy might come into play. The good news is my friends are a great bunch of people. They look forward to their own exit from the working world, most the sooner the better. Still it does not hurt to be sensitive. Some jobs are just fine while others are nightmares. I try to encourage those struggling to hang in there and keep their eye on the prize. I tell them how I enjoy the retired life but don’t rub it in. Keep on track, stay focused and don’t give up. I can personally vouch for the fact it will be worth the wait.

No one knows how their retirement will play out until they begin living it. Expect the unexpected. Prepare as best you can for the financial as well as non-financial aspects of your journey. Do your best. Then hang on for the ride – it should be a doosie!

LoveBeingRetired.com

Five Essential Diabetes Management Tips for Seniors

Written by James Fleming

According to the most recent data, 30.3 million Americans had been diagnosed with diabetes. Of those 30.3 million people, 12 million were senior citizens over the age of 65. That’s 25.2 percent of the senior population.

If you’re a senior citizen with diabetes, it’s easy to feel as though the disease runs your life. That definitely doesn’t have to be the case, though.

Listed below are some important diabetes management tips that will help seniors enjoy a better quality of life.

  1. Monitor Your Blood Sugar

Diabetics of all ages need to make sure they’re monitoring their blood sugar regularly. However, this is especially important for senior citizens.

By managing your blood sugar, you can prevent a variety of serious illnesses and complications, including high blood pressure, neuropathy, and vision problems.

Make sure you’re monitoring your sugar at the same time each day to make it a habit. Keep track of your levels each day and bring the information to your next doctor appointment. Your doctor can use this information to help you figure out the right protocol for controlling your sugar and maintaining your health.

Seniors tend to have issues with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) rather than hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Low blood sugar can increase your chances of getting dizzy and falling, so it’s important to check your levels and make sure they are high enough throughout the day.

  1. Manage Your Medication

As you get older, it can be harder to stay on top of your diabetes medication. It’s essential that you do so, though. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for a variety of complications.

These days, there are lots of devices designed to help people manage their medication. Some pillboxes even come with alarms that remind you of when it’s time to take your medication.

Not very tech savvy? You can also use a simple paper chart or calendar and check off each day after you’ve taken your medicine.

  1. Don’t Blame Everything on Neuropathy

Neuropathy is much more common among senior diabetics than it is among younger diabetics. Because of this, it’s easy to blame it for any kind of pain or dysfunction you’re experiencing. It’s important to take note of other conditions you could be suffering from, though.

For example, many diabetics with hand pain think they’re suffering from neuropathy when they’re actually dealing with issues like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Advanced glycation end-products (proteins that become sticky when exposed to sugars) can collect on the tendons of the palms of long-term diabetics. This causes nerve compression and the pain, numbness, and/or tingling that’s associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with laparoscopic surgery or by wearing a special brace.

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Diet can make a huge difference in the quality of life for diabetic senior citizens. But, many diabetic seniors aren’t eating the kinds of foods that promote healthy blood sugar levels.

Some foods that diabetic seniors should avoid include:

  • Alcohol
  • Sugar (especially from processed or packaged foods)
  • High-sugar fruits
  • Refined grains and cereals
  • Fruit juice and soda

Instead, seniors should fill their grocery carts with the following staples:

  • Legumes
  • Low-sugar fruits (apples, berries, etc.)
  • Dark green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.)
  • Orange vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.)
  • Healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, olives, nuts, etc.)
  • Whole grain carbohydrates
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • High-quality protein sources (beef, pork, chicken, fish, etc.)
  1. Stay Active

Regular exercise is another essential for diabetic seniors (and all seniors, for that matter) who want to stay healthy and happy.

Some seniors shy away from exercise because they’re afraid that they’re going to get hurt. In reality, though, exercise is one of the best things seniors can do to prevent injuries.

Great forms of exercise for seniors include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Resistance training
  • Yoga

These types of exercise help seniors manage their weight, control blood sugar, and maintain their muscle mass.

Final Thoughts

Even if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you can still maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Keep these simple management tips in mind to stay on top of your condition and keep complications at bay.

Experience the Joy of Patience in Retirement

As a survivor of a Bay Area based career it is not always easy to slow things down despite my enviable retired status. Old habits die hard and decades of hustling to the next event or jetting down the freeway toward another oh-so-important meeting impacted the person I was and influenced the lifestyle I lived. Everything was so fast. While in the midst of my career I honestly felt guilty taking a moment to escape the busy day. There was always something I could be doing, something I should be doing.

Now that I am retired I am beginning to understand not everything need proceed at turbo speed. It is okay to pursue the day at a sane pace. And it is much easier to appreciate and tune into the world around if moments are not flashing by at the speed of light.

In the Bay Area, heavy traffic is a fact of life. If you are on the road you expect to proceed at slower than posted speed limits in all but the rarest of times. As congestion increases everywhere, there is no longer any non-rush hour time to journey out. I never got used to the traffic. I would prefer to drive twice the distance so long as my car kept moving. Waiting, burning gas, watching the minutes tick by – it wound me up like a watch.

Where my wife and I retired there is no real rush hour traffic or at least nothing like what we were accustomed. There are a few stretches of highway that back up at various times of the day. But as I learn to be patient in retirement I am able to better deal with these delays. Perhaps it is because I am no longer pressured to be somewhere at a specific time. I sit back and remember how things are just 70 miles away and smile broadly. “This is rush hour traffic I can handle just fine!!”

Being patient is not always easy. If you are an active retiree there is nothing worse than sustaining an injury that sidelines from your normal pursuits. Exercise keeps us limber, engaged and out there living. I know that if I miss more than a few days I start to get a bit testy. My wife notes this as well and thank God for her patience!

As the aging game plays forward it doesn’t take something big to knock you out of circulation. A minor tweak of the knee and you end up unable to take your daily walk. A few months ago I tried a new yoga pose to relieve a little back/hip pain. Unfortunately I did it incorrectly and now two months later my elbow is a painful reminder to do it right or don’t do it at all. I haven’t returned to my normal workout routine and it drives me crazy. But I know how important patience is when it comes to recovering from injury, even more so entering my sixth decade. I am letting time mend me, doing what I can around the injury to stay active, optimistic I will be back before too long. And when I am, look out!

Throughout life we will run into situations that test our patience. We all have our hot buttons, triggers that quickly set us into orbit. Where traffic is my personal bane others may feel challenged when forced to engage in mindless small talk or tolerate barking dogs at night or enduring those ever so slow grocery clerks.

When I feel my tension level rise I try to consciously slow down. I take a few slow, deep breaths to help bring my heart rate back to normal. I put a smile on my face to help put things in perspective. Most importantly I remind myself where I am in life – retired from the rat race, free to spend my days as I choose to, able to proceed at a reasonable pace, no longer burdened by must-have-an-answer-now decisions. Feeling in control of my days is a blessing.

Sure I get a little impatient on occasion. But I am learning what matters and what does not. I try to overlook the annoying little things, to focus my time and energy on what matters and what I enjoy. Living in that state there is no cause to hurry. I savor my freedom and appreciate the moments I am fortunate enough to live.

LoveBeingRetired.com

Preparing Your House to Accommodate Seniors with Limited Mobility

Written by Becky Wilcox

Mobility challenges are quite common among the elderly. If you are the primary caregiver for a senior family member who is experiencing this difficulty, it is critical that you do your best to help them cope with these limitations. One way is to make your home “elderly-friendly” for a safer and more accessible environment for aging adults.

Making upgrades/additions to your home to make it safe and secure for older folks can be as simple as installing handrails near the staircase. This senior home preparation guide focuses on simple investments for creating a haven. That said, it also recommends more substantial installations that can be worthwhile if your loved one ends up having long-term mobility issues.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Create a Comfortable Sitting Environment 

Sitting in a comfortable position can prove to be a challenge for mobility impaired seniors. The standard chairs present in most homes can take a toll on their back. On top of that, older folks may struggle to get back into a standing position without assistance. Fortunately, modern lift recliners and other similar options are allowing caregivers and homeowners to set up comfortable seating areas in their accommodations. Furniture pieces like these include all the latest features (dual motors, massage, heating, etc.) that allow for versatility in how users maneuver them. For example, they can achieve a fully reclined position as well as be positioned straight. Moreover, some of them are capable of helping seniors stand on their feet by giving them the boost they need to get comfortably up on their feet.

  1. Add Safety Features to Your Bathroom

Your bathroom is especially important to secure since water increases the risk of slip and fall injuries. Roll-in pathways, curtain equipped shower stalls, and seating are some viable options for the seniors in your home don’t use a wheelchair. Investments like these remove the need to step over a tub or ledge, significantly reducing the risk of falling. Another washroom safety measure is to replace one of your existing bathtubs with a walk-in model. That’ll give your mobility impaired loved one the safety and confidence they need to bathe on their own. Additionally, you can put pads and non-slip pads at the bottom to offer better traction inside. As for the bath sink, countertop versions are the most secure option for access and support. The can be adjusted in the same manner as the kitchen. For homeowners with a free-standing sink, it’s a good idea to install an “L” bracket in the wall stud to remove the risks associated with leaning on it.

  1. Reorganize the Kitchen

Incorporate at least one accessible workplace in the kitchen that seniors can access, be it a fold-down table or a small dining set. Just make sure it can bear a considerable amount of weight. The workspace should also be able to accommodate frequently used items. Ensure these are accessible throughout the kitchen, as reaching for things in high cabinets could lead to injuries. Also, controls should be present in front of the stove to prevent seniors needing to reach across burners. Additionally, appliances and cookware with sensory alerts – like kitchen appliances with both lights and sounds and whistling ovens – are must-haves for homes with older adults.

Make sure the elders with mobility issues always feel safe and welcome by taking note of the arrangements they need. Start by making these upgrades to make seniors appreciate your home as well as life in general.