By Paige A. Mitchell, Freelance Writer
Our adult lives are consumed with obligations and responsibilities. The checklist can seem never-ending and exhausting.
One would think that the prospect of retiring would seem fantastic to everyone. However, many adults are not prepared for the amount of time that opens up to them upon retiring. The freedom can quickly become overwhelming and it can be difficult to decide what to do with your time and available resources.
For this reason, Forbes actually advises “practicing” and “trying out” some retirement plans before you actually retire which could include planning and taking trips, experimenting with new hobbies and sports, and even moving to or spending time in some prospective retirement destinations in the off-season before deciding that you would like to live there.
However, beyond the obvious suggestions like picking up a hobby, getting a pet, or volunteering, there are other suggestions you may not have considered. In this article, we’ll focus specifically on the ways you can keep busy after retirement that will enhance your lifestyle and overall health.
Brain health is often taken for granted in our youth. As we age, our brain ages as well and it needs a level of attention and care that we are not accustomed to providing. Keeping your brain healthy will help you stay independent much longer and stimulation also extends to the rest of your overall physical health and well-being. Your health should be a priority in retirement.
Get your affairs in order
While this is a more serious activity, it is also important to your friends and family that you are prepared for the final chapters of your life. One retirement blogger created a flash drive for her family with all of the necessary information, documents and instructions for her loved ones so that they would not have to track all of the information down when it was time to say goodbye.
In the early years of retirement, it is important to visit future housing options. You might consider hiring a Geriatric Care Manager. And you’ll have to have detailed and honest discussions with loved ones and caregivers about your financial and health care needs.
Most retirees want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. In order to maintain the value of your home throughout retirement, it is important that you have a valid and effective repair service plan and that you take the time and resources you have during retirement to make the needed upgrades and enhancements to your home, making it more accessible and comfortable for you to age in place.
Once you have done the onerous task of making necessary financial and legal arrangements, you will be free to pursue the activities that give you the most joy.
Never stop learning
Retirement is a great opportunity rediscover the joy of learning. If there is a subject or skill you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time because of work and family obligation, retirement is the right time to take a class. This could include piano or violin lessons, learning a foreign language, or taking a course on vehicle engine maintenance.
Learning is crucial to brain health because it builds new neural pathways and keeps the brain exercised. Music and foreign language learning in particular are critical to maintaining and improving brain health.
Get up and go
It is also important to recognize that movement and exercise are tied to brain health and mobility as well. Make sure you find a form of exercise that you enjoy and that is within your capabilities. Studies have shown that regular movement improves and maintains memory and cognitive function.
Many older people are under the impression that they have to resurrect the athlete they were when they were 25. However, exercise in retirement need not be overly strenuous or painful. Regular walking, gentle stretching, and other leisurely activities can be sufficient for maintaining health as long as they require gentle but constant movement.
Travel is a popular suggestion to retirees. While many of us would consider a beach vacation or cruise an obvious choice, there are many other options to consider for traveling when you retire.
Market Watch suggests that the travel adventures we typically associate with high school and college students are becoming popular for retirees as well. There are now summer camps for adults that will allow you to herd cattle, write the Great American novel, cultivate wine or build boats.
Consider taking a “Gap” year, a year-long residency in another country, city, rural area or in a specific environment doing educational or volunteer work. Volunteer travel assignments, RV road trips, and quaint regional and domestic travel destinations can also be more cost-effective for those who cannot finance overseas vacations and beach resort stays.
Make new friends and rekindle old relationships
Social Interaction is difficult to prioritize in retirement. After spending much of our life being of service and help to others, it can be tempting to simply retreat to our homes and spend time alone. However, this can also be damaging to emotional well-being and physical health if people begin to actively avoid social interaction.
Social interaction is also critical to brain health. Be sure to actively seek out social experiences with friends and family. It might mean you will have to actively schedule regular dinner and activities throughout the month in order to motivate yourself to commit to getting out of the house and getting involved in the lives of friends and family.
Additionally, meeting new people will help challenge your thinking and continue to help you learn new things in retirement. Market Watch suggests making friends with someone in a different generation or from a different culture who sees and experiences the world differently.
While many of us are familiar with the common suggestions for retirement, we may not have considered how we can customize those suggestions to meet our own goals, dreams, and desires.
Consider how volunteering, traveling, socializing, exercising, and even working can be given a new twist, as to be more adaptable and more personalized to the immense variety of people pursuing retirement these days.
What are you looking forward to doing in your retirement?