Top Ten Healthy Habits to Help Seniors Age in Place

Written by James Fleming

If you’ve never really prioritized health before, you may think it’s too late now that you’ve retired or are about to retire. In reality, though, it’s never too late and in fact, your health matters more now than ever before.

The sooner you start implementing healthy habits, the longer you are likely live and the greater your quality of life will be. Even if you’re currently struggling with pain or an illness, these ten habits can help reduce your symptoms and allow you to continue aging in place.

1. Take a Daily Multivitamin
Micronutrient deficiencies are common among senior citizens, and the deficiencies seem to get worse as age increases. A daily multivitamin is a great tool that you can use to avoid the health risks that come from these deficiencies.

A daily multivitamin contributes to one’s overall health and is especially beneficial for days when you under eat or simply don’t eat as healthfully as you’d like.

2. Get an Annual Physical
If you’re relying on Medicare, you’re entitled to a free physical during the first twelve months. After that, you receive a free annual wellness visit.

Be sure to take advantage of these free visits to make sure you’re staying on top of your health. If you are suffering from any illness, you’ll be able to catch it earlier. Your doctor will also be able to let you know if you are at risk of developing any specific diseases.

3. Prioritize Prevention
Preventative care visits — such as health screenings and vaccinations — are almost always covered by Medicare as well. Take advantage of these screenings and vaccines to ensure you’re keeping illness at bay and catching any issues that might be present early on.

4. Let Go of What You Can’t Control
Research shows that the people who live the longest are typically those who do not dwell on the difficulties they may be facing. Being able to manage stress and let go of the things that are out of your control is good for your physical and mental well-being. Mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, and tai chi are great for helping you improve your ability to stop internalizing things you can’t change.

5. Visit the Dentist Twice a Year
As you age, your risk of cavities increases. Mouth infections have also been linked to a variety of chronic and serious conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. To prevent these and maintain good oral health, regular dentist visits (every six months) are a good idea.

6. Keep Your Mental Health in Check
Mental health is another essential component of a high quality of life. Many seniors struggle with depression and anxiety. Work on maintaining a positive attitude and try to find friends or family members with whom you can share your worries or problems. Keeping these things bottled up will only make your depression or anxiety worse.

7. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise will also help keep depression and anxiety at bay. It’s also just good for overall health. Seniors who exercise regularly are less likely to experience falls, and, if you struggle with arthritis or chronic pain, you may also find that it helps alleviate your symptoms.

8. Eat a Healthy Diet
Taking a multivitamin is important, but remember that it’s a supplement — it shouldn’t replace your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality animal products. To maintain your health and age in place, a healthy and balanced diet is essential. Be sure to also drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

9. Get Plenty of Sleep
Many seniors struggle with insomnia or poor quality sleep. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool to promote better rest. You can also use natural sleep aids to help you get plenty of shut-eye (prescription sleep aids should be a last resort, as they can cause dizziness and increase your risk of falls).

10. Stay Connected
Finally, make sure you’re spending time with people you love on a regular basis. Friends, children, grandchildren — they all can help you feel connected and make it easier for you to maintain a positive attitude. This, in turn, will lengthen your lifespan and improve your quality of life.

Should You Continue to Invest After Retirement?

Written by Becky Wilcox

How much money is enough for retirement? Although that’s a common enough question, the answer may surprise you. Any number you come up with for your lifestyle will be something of an educated guess. In other words, it’s unlikely to be accurate. While it would be wonderful to establish a figure that defines a comfortable retirement, there is one problem with coming up with anything close to an accurate reckoning: the goal post keeps moving. Some variables that confound any calculation is that the rate of inflation, the cost of living, and confidence in the social security system keeps changing. In addition, with medical science making rapid advances every year, your chances of longevity keeps improving.

It’s unrealistic to simply hope to stockpile enough money to live out your retirement years. Rather than hoping you won’t outlive your money, it makes more sense to continue to generate passive income during your retirement years. Some investment vehicles that would be a good option for continuing to invest in your retirement years include precious metals, real estate investment trusts, dividend-paying stocks, US Treasury notes and bonds and Treasury inflation-protected securities.

Gold Bullion

When you invest in gold bullion, you’ll be joining a trend that has become increasingly popular during the last decade as the US debt has increased at an alarming rate. With the US national debt rising by an average of $3.8 billion a day and government borrowing at the rate of $5 billion every single business day, faith in the stability of the US dollar has been shaken. Consequently, gold is seen as a hedge against hard economic times.

People who are interested in gold bullion find it easy to buy and sell gold and appreciate the accuracy with which gold content can be verified after purchase. They believe that investing in gold has significant upsides in an uncertain economy.

Real Estate Investment Trusts

When you buy Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), you make money as a shareholder. REITs make money by purchasing property and then renting, leasing, and selling them. REITs are made available to the public through IPOs, or initial public offerings. After your purchase, you will be pleased to observe that 90% of a REIT’s taxable income is regularly distributed to shareholders like you.

Dividend-Paying Stocks

When you buy stocks, you will receive dividend payments. The best way to make money from your investments in stocks is to find companies that have developed an excellent reputation for increasing their dividend payments every year. These companies will continue to pump money into your bank account year after year. And, of course, as you add more shares to your portfolio, the more money you’ll make.

Municipal Bonds

When you buy municipal bonds, usually refer to as “munis,” you are lending a government entity money. A muni, then, is a debt obligation issued by a government entity to fund its diverse projects. In exchange for your loan contribution, you will receive a fixed number of interest payouts over a predetermined schedule.

U.S. Treasury Notes and Bonds

When you buy U.S. Treasury notes and bonds, you will be paid interest on a discount bond upon maturity. This is a bond that you can buy for less than its face value. You will then be paid the full value of your bond when it matures.

Treasury Inflated Protected Securities

When you buy Treasury inflated-protected securities, otherwise known as TIPS, you will benefit from inflation protection. The primary disadvantage of TIPS is that you will earn a lower interest rate than if you were to buy other types of government securities or if you were to buy credit securities. In addition, your tax bill will be higher.

In conclusion, you should continue to invest in your retirement years. Although you might expect to only spend a third of your retirement savings to cover your living expenses, this evaluation may not be accurate. In reality, much of your savings will be used to cover costs that you had not anticipated. For instance, the rise in the cost of medical expenses may be much higher than you could have predicted.

Coping With Sleep Disorders Among Seniors

Written by Amy Highland

Aging is often associated with increased instances of memory loss, slowed reflexes, and depression, but one of the most prevalent issues for seniors is insomnia. Seniors need seven to nine hours of sleep just like other adults, but many find themselves up several times during the night or waking too early. You may face some unique sleep challenges because of the aging human body. However, once aware of these issues, you can work to implement habits that will improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest.

Age and Sleep

Circadian rhythms, which are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that occur on a regular 24-hour cycle, control the sleep-wake cycle. Circadian rhythms are heavily influenced by light expo       sure but can also be adjusted through behavior. Special receptors in the eyes called ganglion absorb the blue light that helps regulate circadian rhythms. Over time, changes in the eye such as narrowing pupils and yellowing of the lens can alter the sleep-wake cycle.

Seniors often experience circadian rhythm disruptions due to changes in the eyes. A study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology explored the decrease in photo receptivity in the aging eye. Researchers noted that a 10-year-old child’s eye will absorb 10 times the amount of light as that of a 95-year-old. It was found that a decrease in pupil area and changes in light absorption resulted in a progressive loss of the eye’s ability to absorb the light necessary to regulate circadian rhythms. Another study found that patients who’d undergone cataract surgery experienced a better sleep-wake cycle due to the lightening of the eye lens, which allowed more light to regulate their rhythms.

But, but all sleep disorders in seniors do not stem from circadian rhythm problems. Seniors are also at higher risk for disorders such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and rapid eye movement (REM) behavior disorder. Because of growing medical needs, many seniors may be taking medications that interfere with the sleep cycle including antidepressants, anticholinergics, and blood pressure medications.

The Road to Better Sleep

Though seniors face many challenges to getting a good night’s rest, a few behavior changes along with a proper diagnosis of any underlying problems can increase sleep quality. You can also help yourself rest better by:

  • Nighttime Comfort: Seniors often have body aches and pains that get in the way of good sleep. Be sure your mattress offers enough support and is appropriate for your preferred sleep position and weight. This simple change can often reduce nighttime pain.
  • Increasing Natural Light Exposure: Spending more time in natural light can help increase the among of blue light absorbed. It’s this blue light that regulates the circadian rhythms.
  • Using Bright Light Therapy: For some seniors, it can be difficult to get natural light exposure due to mobility issues or weather. Bright light therapy uses a special bulb the gives off light similar to sunlight. Exposure in the morning helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Exercising Regularly: Regular exercise helps to tire out the muscles. It’s also a good opportunity to get outside and increase your natural light exposure.
  • Avoiding Daytime Naps: Excessive daytime tiredness in seniors often results in several daytime naps. While a short nap of 30 to 45 minutes can counteract the effects of sleep deprivation, much longer than that and you could be disrupting your sleep-wake cycle.

Changing habits can take time, but with consistency and effort, you can give yourself a better chance to get the rest you need for improved physical, mental, and emotional health.