Seven Ways to Avoid the Post-Retirement Blues

The American Psychological Association estimates 15 million older adults will experience a mental health condition by 2030. As they enter retirement, seniors may struggle with their value or sense of purpose and for some, finding fulfillment can feel like an uphill battle.

Here are seven meaningful activities that can help prevent the post-retirement blues:

  1. Embrace Exercise: Regular physical activity lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. It also helps to maintain bone, muscle and joint health, in addition to reducing the risk of depression and anxiety. A few low-impact exercises include walking, dancing, yoga and water aerobics.
  2. Find Employment: Whether it’s part-time or full-time, more Americans age 65 and older are choosing to rejoin the workforce. In fact, older adults currently represent nearly 19% of the employed population. Although retirement should be a time to enjoy life and relax, working can help maintain good cognitive function and regular physical activity. As a bonus, older adults may benefit from work wellness programs, which have been shown to increase productivity, improve morale and lower health care costs.
  3. Foster a Pet: While pets are often seen as a great source of love and companionship, fostering at least one animal can also decrease blood pressure, cholesterol and feelings of loneliness. Animals can increase opportunities for physical activity and social opportunities as well.
  4. Hit the Road: Retirement is the perfect time to travel the globe and explore new places. It’s a scenic way to expand one’s horizons both figuratively and literally. Meeting new people helps to improve communication skills and boosts confidence. It can be a fun, educational experience that produces one-of-a-kind adventures.
  5. Reconnect with Family: The older people get, the more important it is to maintain familial bonds. Reconnecting with loved ones can have a positive impact on physical, emotional and mental well-being. Over time, adult children and even grandchildren may take on caregiver and companion roles. Make these relationships a priority by giving them the time and energy they deserve.
  6. Start Volunteering: A recent report found 84% of seniors improved their overall health after two years of ongoing volunteer work. Helping others provides a sense of accomplishment and offers opportunities for personal growth, relationship-building and strengthens a person’s connection to their community.
  7. Try a Hobby: Individuals who engage in leisure activities, such as a hobby, are more likely to have reduced blood pressure, a lower body mass index (BMI) and better physical function. Hobbies can also provide much-needed structure and a renewed sense of purpose. The key is to explore things that are interesting to the individual that they will want to continue doing. Overall, retirement is a great time to explore interests, try something new, and learn an additional skill.

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About the author: Dr. Raymond Hobbs is a physician consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Photo credit: eclipse_images

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