Why retirement promises to be the best time of your life

The healthier we are, the better life will be – young and old.

Age is no barrier to good health in later life.

People from all walks of life want:

“A healthy old age with friends and family around me,”

“To feel secure with enough money not to worry,”

says Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research at Age UK.

A good later life

The last 30 years has seen an upsurge in research on ageing.

As a result, evidence is telling us much more about how to age well than we could have known in the past.

Age UK has published “Live Well and Love Later Life,” a booklet of advice on ageing better, gathered from the world’s leading scientists and doctors.

Thanks to the research, everyone has the opportunity to learn how to live later life to the full.

Request your own copy of the booklet summarising the research from Age UK and sign up to emails for updates as new research is released. Meanwhile, let us consider some of the key points.

Positive thinking

Ageing well has more to do with positive thinking than with genetics. Our genes account for only a quarter of what determines how long we live and how healthy we stay.

The other three quarters are within our own control. They are nutrition and lifestyle.

Life expectancy is increasing. “What’s important I that we make life better for ourselves by making the right lifestyle choices,” says Professor Tom Kirkwood, Associate Dean for Ageing at Newcastle University.

The Newcastle 85+ Study shows that 78% of 85-year olds rate their health as good, very good or excellent. This busts the myth that life in old age is made miserable by poor health.

The study continues to explore how earlier healthy lifestyle choices can impact health in later life.

Ignore negative beliefs about ageing

We can influence our own beliefs about the ageing process.

Dr Becca Levy, Yale University, USA, advises us to expect good health – including better memory and the ability to cope with stress. Research shows a positive age belief will contribute to better health and wellbeing.

Society tends to spread negative messages about ageing, especially on television. Be aware of these messages and don’t accept them.

Being useful to other people encourages positive health beliefs and enhances our own wellbeing.

Cognitive skills

If you’ve always had good cognition, this is likely to continue into old age.

Avoiding cardiovascular disease will help keep your brain healthy, as will maintaining your physical strength through exercise. Staying mentally and physically active, including nutritious food in your diet will help slow mental decline, says Professor Ian Deary, Centre for Ageing, University of Edinburgh.

Stay social

Maintain friendships and social contacts within and beyond the family.

Spend time on hobbies – alone and with others.

Professor Alan Walker of the University of Sheffield says our quality of life is overwhelmingly determined by social factors – the relationships, leisure activities and hobbies we enjoy.

Take care of your immune system

We can improve the function of our immune systems through diet, exercise, maintaining social contacts and getting a good night’s sleep, reports Professor Janet Lord, University of Birmingham.

If you are wondering how much exercise will keep you fit and healthy when you’re in your sixties and beyond, the NHS Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults gives reliable advice.

All physical activity, however minimal, is beneficial to our health.

The most convenient form of exercise perhaps is walking. Lymm has several interesting walks and heritage trails to bring into your daily exercise routine.

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