Retirement planning isn’t just about money. You could have all the money in the world but it won’t do you much good if you’re not well enough to enjoy it. Perhaps that’s why 44% of Canadians are concerned about their physical health in retirement, and 40% are concerned about their mental health.
So, with that in mind, here are some tips to help you keep feeling your best pre- and post- retirement.
Maintaining a healthy diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But as you get older, your body requires fewer calories, which can make it challenging to pack in all the nutrients you need.
Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating a variety of healthy foods every day, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and protein food, and to make water your drink of choice.
One of the benefits of being retired is that now you’ll have more time to cook from scratch, which is a good thing! Processed and pre-packaged foods tend to be much higher in sugar and salt than the dishes you create at home.
Not a fan of cooking? No problem — try setting aside one evening or afternoon a week to prepare a big batch of healthy soup, chili or pasta that you can divide into meal-size portions and freeze for future use.
As people age, they lose muscle mass and bone strength. If you’re a woman, you may be at risk for osteoporosis after menopause.
The good news is that exercise can help keep muscles and bones stronger longer. The Canadian Activity Guidelines for Older Adults recommends:
- Take part in aerobic (endurance) for at least 150 minutes a week in sessions of 10 minutes or more. That might sound like a lot, but it could be as easy as taking a brisk 25-minute walk every day. Or switch it up and go cycling, swimming or skiing instead.
- Do activities that increase strength at least two days a week. Lifting weights is one example, but lifting groceries or laundry also counts.
- Do activities to improve your balance and flexibility every day. Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization among Canadians 65 and older, and balance exercises can help prevent them. You may want to consider taking up yoga or tai-chi. You don’t have to enroll in a formal class; there are plenty of free online resources available.
Not feeling quite motivated yet? Check out our step-by-step guide to get moving and find out how to add 15 years to your life by walking.
Retirement is a major life event, bringing many changes that may result in stress, anxiety or depression. Work provides a sense of purpose and usefulness that you may miss when you retire. Relationships can come under strain, too, when one or both spouses suddenly find themselves spending much more time at home.
While it’s normal to feel “down” from time to time, if feelings of sadness persist or begin to affect your daily life, speak to your doctor. There are many effective treatment options available, from counselling to behavioural therapy to medication.
Manage existing conditions
Forty-four percent of Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one of 10 common chronic conditions, such as arthritis or high blood pressure. Chronic conditions that occur later in life include osteoporosis (age 40-plus) and dementia (age 65-plus).
The good news is that many of these conditions can be managed through medication. Diet and exercise can also play a role in preventing many conditions or slowing their progression.
At any stage of life, the best way to stay healthy is to prevent issues from happening in the first place. In other words, take care of yourself. That includes having regular checkups with your doctor, dentist and eyecare provider, keeping vaccinations up-to-date and undergoing routine cancer screening. You may also find regular visits to a massage therapist, chiropractor or other medical professional are beneficial.
Prescriptions, eyeglasses, compression stockings… maintaining your good health can be expensive. And when you retire, you may no longer have access to your employer’s group benefits plan. An individual health and dental plan can be a cost-effective way to get coverage similar to what you had when you were working. And many individual plans, including Manulife FollowMe™, offer guaranteed acceptance as long as you apply within 90 days of leaving your group plan.
- Active Living Canada; Active living tips for older adults (PDF)
- Government of Canada; Canada's Food Guide
- CSEP; Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines
- Public Health Agency of Canada; Senior's fall in Canada (PDF)
- Fountain of Health; Mental health support for Seniors (PDF)
- Very Well Mind; How to deal with depression after retirement
- Government of Canada; Prevalence of Chronic Diseases Among Canadian Adults
- HRR Reporter; Are we headed for a retirement crisis?