Retirement and care

Every day we get that little bit older and whoever we are may well start thinking about “retirement.”  When we were younger we assumed older people retired at 60 years of age.  We also thought many of them would need to be looked after because ageing was like an illness! Some people still assume we older folk are incapable of changing our lifestyle, opinions, our outlook, our religion or our politics because of our age!  Ageism had presumed that 60 years signified the end of a person’s productive life and from then on older folk became a burden on society and the health service.

But how things have changed and thankfully ageism has become a thing of the past. Many of us “not born yesterday” realise that some people who simply do retire may be wasting their knowledge and experience. For others who have simply retired, it can sometimes lead to decline and a feeling of worthlessness. Shattering the retirement myth of rocking chair and slippers  older people now have the choice of continuing to work on if they choose to whether for financial reasons or just because they love their job.  Alternatively many who do choose retirement use their time pursuing hobbies or fulfilling their lifelong dreams.

I can assure the younger generation that whichever choice we make either to retire or continue working we older people have a lot to offer, not least of which is experience. Like many of my contemporaries I still work, travelling the world as a fitness guru or nearer to home working as a broadcaster and journalist. I enjoy encouraging others of “retirement” age to be useful, fit and happy members of society.  And it’s fitness that can turn our later years of either working on or retiring into a satisfying and happy period of life.  Being healthy can alleviate the increasing strain on the health services, for which importantly in the future our younger generations will have to work hard to fund. Unfortunately some older people will be less than well, this may be the time to take advice on the care services available.

Most mature people over the age of 55 understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle; some have already been medically advised to start taking regular exercise!  Their excuses for not doing so range from lack of time, pressure of work or family. Many retired people of 60 plus wrongly consider they are too old, or feel it’s too late to worry about a healthy lifestyle. Happily others do try and feel that walking or golf are ample exercise, which is a positive start!  As the years pass by no matter what your age or fitness ability even doing some simple exercises in the privacy of your own home can make a difference. Feeling fit adds a quality and buzz to everyday life which will help to make your years of retirement a joy.

Do not attempt the following exercises if you have osteoporosis, a bad back or have balance problems.

1.WAKE UP MONKEY STRETCH will stretch out and wake up your body. Stand feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees, incline forward from the waist and swing arms down to floor and behind you. Now continue in a flowing movement to straighten knees and swing arms forward and high up above your head. Breathe deeply, lift rib cage, straighten up and stretch out entire body.  Repeat rhythmically 5 times.

2        LEG LIFTS will strengthen the quadriceps (front thigh muscles). Stand and hold back of a chair for support. Straighten right leg, point toes and lift leg high out in front and hold for 5 seconds. Keeping leg as high as possible and take it on around to side and hold for 5 seconds.   Relax leg down and repeat with the left leg.   Repeat 5 times with each leg. (Keep supporting leg soft).

3        CIRCLES will release tension in shoulders, upper back and improve posture. Stand or sit, bend your elbows and raise your arms to the side and simply place fingertips on your shoulders.   Keeping your fingertips in position bring your elbows forward and together in front of your chest.   Draw a circle with your elbows – lift them both up and take on out to either side and, then on back pulling your shoulder blades together, as far as comfortable.   Continue drawing imaginary circles with your elbows on down to sides and back to start position.   Repeat 5 times clockwise and 5 times anti-clockwise.

 4        SIDE TWISTS will improve the mobility of your shoulders and upper back. Stand or sit upright as before but concentrate on posture by pulling in your tummy.   Bend your elbows out, bring your hands up and touch your fingertips together in front of your chest.   Keeping your elbows up  twist from your waist only and take your upper body, arms and head to look around your right side (as far as comfortable.   Come back to centre and continue to twist arms and upper body to look around left side.   Keep elbows up, fingertips touching and repeat this twisting movement 5 times to each side, working the back and shoulders.

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