senior helping student
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Find a New Purpose

When you retire, you don’t just leave a job. You enter a new stage in your life. If you do something you find meaningful, you’ll be happier and healthier. Volunteer at a hospital or library. Take part in projects at your house of worship. Tutor kids who need help in school. Care for animals in a shelter. Help assemble gift boxes for soldiers overseas. Long-term, this can help both your mind and body.

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couple relaxing with drinks
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The Right Surroundings

Where you live can help set you up for good health. If you want clean air, you have a variety of choices, like Melbourne, FL; Elmira, NY; Pueblo, CO; and Salinas, CA. You can exercise outdoors amid the mountains of Boulder, CO, the seacoast of Portland, ME, or the sunshine of Tucson, AZ. For top-notch medical care, it can be good to live near Cleveland, Boston, Baltimore, Houston, New York City, or Rochester, MN.

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couple loving on dog
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Man’s (or Woman’s) Best Friend

A dog gives you unconditional love and more. Just 15 minutes with Fido can lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress level. Over time, a faithful companion can help cut your cholesterol, fight depression, and keep you active. Having a cat can also help lower your blood pressure and stress levels.

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dinner on table
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Healthy Food

You’re more likely to have problems linked to nutrition, like weight loss or a lack of certain vitamins, as you age. So a balanced diet of protein, fat, and carbs is more important than ever. Cut down on packaged foods, because they have lots of salt, which can raise your blood pressure. One good option is to eat like people in Greece and its region: lots of fruit, veggies, whole grains, and olive oil.

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lake retreat
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Get Out of the House

An active lifestyle can help you be happier, live longer, and lower your chances of some ailments, like dementia. Play cards with friends. Travel with a seniors group. Reconnect with friends from high school or college. If you have a hobby -- like reading, knitting, or gardening -- join a club that focuses on it.

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blood pressure test
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Keep Tabs on Your Health

Regular medical checkups are a must. Your doctor can help you guard against a heart attack or a stroke by watching your blood pressure and cholesterol. Timely shots help protect you from the flu and other illnesses. If you’re a woman, you need tests for breast and cervical cancers; if you’re a man, your doctor can help you decide about a prostate cancer test.

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couple playing tennis
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Exercise for Fun and Fitness

Being active not only gives your health a boost, but it also helps you stay independent as you age. Pick something you enjoy so you’ll keep doing it. Aerobic exercise, like walking, swimming, or dancing, can give you more energy and help keep your mind sharp, too. Exercises with weights or bands can build your strength. Yoga keeps you flexible. If exercise is new to you, ease into it, and check with your doctor first.

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senior man driving at night
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Behind the Wheel

With time, changes in your eyesight, physical fitness, and reflexes can affect how well you can drive. Your safety depends on keeping track. Can you see road signs clearly? Are you limber enough to turn around and check traffic behind your car? Does traffic confuse you? Your doctor may be able to help with issues like these. And groups like AARP and AAA offer classes to help you measure and beef up your skills.

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spine model
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Bone Health

If you’re a woman, your bones need a boost. The changes in your hormones after menopause can make them more brittle, a condition called osteoporosis. To fight that, make sure your diet gives you plenty of calcium, the bones’ key building block. Good sources include broccoli, spinach, and low-fat or nonfat milk and yogurt. When you reach 65, have your doctor check your bones with a DEXA test -- a low-dose X-ray.

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man painting
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Stimulate Your Mind

Your brain needs exercise, just like your body. Read, do puzzles, play a musical instrument, or pick up an old hobby. Take a class in a subject you’re curious about, like cooking or computers. Using your creative side, through things like painting and gardening, can help your brain stay healthy, too. For example, an acting course may boost your memory and your problem-solving skills.

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man sleeping
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Get Your 40 Winks

It may get harder for you to sleep through the night as you get older. You might need to pee or to shift in bed so a joint stops aching. But you can take steps to help. Stop drinking liquids 2 hours before bed. Don’t have any caffeine within 8 hours of bedtime. Make your bedroom as dark as possible. During the day, limit naps to 10 or 20 minutes. To help with aches, ask your doctor if you should take a painkiller when you turn in.

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safety bar
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Safety Around the House

Household accidents become more dangerous as you age. Get nonslip mats for your bathroom floor and tub. Fix frayed rugs or carpets. Be sure there’s plenty of light. Fasten down loose cords. If your home has stairs, put handrails on both sides and put anti-skid strips on the steps.

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intimate seniors
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Intimacy

Physical changes can make sex fade from your life. But you can get the sizzle back. First, each of you should talk about your feelings and concerns. Reassure your partner that you’re still attracted to them. Hand-holding and massages are good ways to reconnect. If there’s a physical problem, like erectile trouble, see your doctor.

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woman writing in planner
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Manage Your Time Well

One of the main joys of retirement is having time on your hands. You can do what you want, when you want. Researchers have found that retirees are happiest when they plan how to spend their time and make the most of it. If you manage it well, that can pay off even if you don’t have lots of time to spare. And it can keep you from being bored.

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woman working from home
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Is ‘Work’ a 4-Letter Word?

Working after you retire can keep your memory and brainpower in shape, not to mention your pocketbook. If you enjoyed your old job, do a scaled-down version of it. That’s an option for professions ranging from bookkeeping to home health to home repair. Or this could be your chance to try that job you always wondered about. Second careers are sometimes the most rewarding.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 07/18/2018 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 18, 2018

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SOURCES:

American Psychological Association: “Thinking About Retirement? Time to Think About Your Psychological Portfolio.”

National Institute on Aging: “Participating in Activities You Enjoy.”

American Lung Association: “Cleanest Cities.”

AARP: “Where to Retire if You Love the Outdoors,” “AARP Smart Drive Course Locator,” “How to Resurrect Your Sex Life,” “Part-Time Jobs for Retirees.”

U.S. News & World Report: “Best Hospitals.”

Aging in Place: “Getting a Pet Can Improve Aging in Place.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Why having a pet is good for your health,” “Is retirement good for health or bad for it?”

Cleveland Clinic: “Aging: Nutrition, Exercise, & Safety,” “5 Tips for Women to Stay Fit After 50,” “Best Ways to Protect Your Mind Against Dementia.”

National Institute on Aging: “Participating in Activities You Enjoy.”

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: “Women: Stay Healthy at 50+,” “Men: Stay Healthy at 50+.”

Psychological Science in the Public Interest: “Enrichment Effects on Adult Cognitive Development.”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: “Driving Safely While Aging Gracefully.”

SeniorDriving.AAA.com: “Driver Improvement Courses for Seniors.”

Mayo Clinic: “8 ways to improve sleep quality as you age.”

The Lifetime Home: “Stairs.”

Springer Select: “Better management of free time ensures happier retirement.”

Applied Research in Quality of Life: “Free Time Management Makes Better Retirement: A Study of Retirees’ Quality of Life in Taiwan.”

Michigan Today: “To retire or not to retire?”

[email protected]: “The Retirement Problem: What Will You Do With All That Time?”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 18, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.