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Age your way. How to stay independent during your retirement

Published: 10 March 2017

Retiring from work inevitably equals a lot of free time, some of which you’ll use to carve out a fantastic new lifestyle, and some of which you’ll no doubt use to worry about the future.  The reality is that as people advance in age, a major concern is how long it will be possible to live independently without outside help or needing to move into a care home.

But here at Retirement Move, we like to help people focus on the positive and spend less of that valuable time worrying. So we’ve put together some simple steps you can take now to help you remain independent for a long and happy retirement.

Stay healthy

One of the most important things you can do to stay independent is to take steps to ensure you’re in the best health possible. Make use of services such as free flu jabs and check-ups with your GP, and make sure you talk to someone if you’re not feeling right.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is equally as important and your body has different nutritional needs as you get older. We know that getting your ‘five-a-day’ in every day isn’t always easy, but it’s important that you try to eat a good blend of the food groups with every meal. Read our guide to managing your diet in retirement for some useful tips.

Keep moving

When it comes to exercise, most people either love it or hate it. But often with retirement comes a lower level of daily activity, so it’s important that you try to stay as active as possible each day. The UK’s chief medical officers recommend that you get in around 150 minutes of physical exercise each week – so even a thirty-minute walk, five times a week, could be enough to keep yourself in good health!

With more free time, there are lots more exercise possibilities for every ability and level of motivation which you can try. And there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue with sports or exercise you have enjoyed all your life, with a few adjustments as you get older. More gyms are catering to programmes for older people these days, and sports activities such as swimming, badminton, tennis, yoga, aerobics, cycling and dancing are always popular.  Clubs and classes are also a great way to expand your social network, especially if you’ve moved to a new area.

Read our article on the importance of moving in retirement.

Plan ahead

If staying independent throughout your retirement years is the goal, it can often be helpful to plan ahead and give yourself the best possible starting point. It’s important to sit down and think about how your needs may change as you grow older, and what you can do to accommodate this.

Whether it’s by making sure that you’ve saved enough money to live comfortably on, or whether there are some home adjustments you can make (or ask a family member to help you with!), it’s important that you think about your potential future needs.

For example, by adding fittings such as bathroom rails or ramps to your house, lowering cupboards to avoid stretching and reaching up for plates/kitchen appliances, removing trip hazards, and adding more lighting to your living spaces, you could find yourself able to live independently for much longer.

It also makes sense to think about how your housing needs may change over the next few years. There usually comes a point when downsizing is needed, but it often happens at a time when the idea of moving and starting again is too big an upheaval. Downsizing earlier in retirement when you’re in a position to fully enjoy its benefits often makes people realise what a burden their large home has been!

Talk it through

If you’re worried about retiring, and you have concerns around maintaining your independence, the best thing you can do is talk to someone. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or a professional, often talking through your worries can be the easiest way to put your mind at rest.

Staying independent after you’ve retired is important, and by planning ahead and putting the necessary measures in place, you should be able to give yourself the best possible head start.

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