The essence of this post is based on the book by Eric Pfeiffer, M. D. The book provides a general guideline for how to achieve healthy aging and a successful retirement. Planning and preparation is the preliminary step for realizing goals in life. The probability of achieving a goal increases dramatically if goals are written and accompanied by a plan for how far one have come toward achieving the goals, Goals and strategies can be amended along the way. From here on there is no such thing as failure. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the simple will power. What defines a successful aging and how to plan to do it? Successful aging is to live the life with beliefs, energy and persistence. The life is filled with positive activities, challenges that one can and is able to address and manage. Is such successful aging possible? Definitely. There are so many examples around us – Eric Pfeiffer’s book quoted so many examples such as the legends of Ruth Rothfarb who ran her first marathon when she was 80, Helen Santmyer who published her first novel in her 80s, and many other well known influential peoples in their 70s – 90s.
Retirement implies “totally portable”, one can live anywhere he or she wants. The place to live in retirement should meet the criteria that the surroundings will support the retirement living such as climate, geography, communications, social connections, ease of transportation and ease of accessibility of health care and etc. One option is the home town that one is familiar with, the other could be the retirement community or somewhere in between (condos with sufficient amenities). Some popular states for retirees are Florida, California, Arizona, and Hawaii or other destinations.
The essential and foremost important thing with successful aging is the self-identification – to be the person I have always been, but with a few new wrinkles. Retirement is to add new dimensions, activities and positive mentality to the existing domain. This suggests I can do past-job related activities, I could practice and write five books or I can start something new such as start a new business, trade the stock market, learn a new skill (a musical instrument, tai chi), travel the world, and opportunities are endless.
Get socialized is another important factor for healthy aging. Social relationships shapes how we think, believe and act. A healthy social relationship is crucial to healthy aging. Tensions in relationship is the number one killer of health and wellness. Be part of a larger social networks. Having extensive social connections increases longevity. Research studies have shown that individuals with extensive social connections tend to outlive those with fewer connections and they tend to be more happier and more contented.
A strong health is a prerequisite for successful aging. Everything else depends on it. Get to know Medicare – the social insurance program for retirees. It is the high priority to maintain and improve health in retirement. Disease Is inevitable with aging. Acute illness should be treated completely and immediately; and chronic illness need to be managed aggressively so as to minimize limitations and functional impairment. This web site (www.antiagingtopics.com) is devoted to the healthy aging topics. Make lifestyle adjustments that will significantly reduce the risk of common chronic diseases associated with aging. The Eric Pfeiffer’s book listed ten life style habits as the “ten commandments of wellness”: exercise, healthy diet, control weight, not to smoke, avoid alcohol, combat insomnia, reduce stress, be socialized, avoid risky physical activities, get flu shots. Another aspect of the task is to know and monitor the numbers – blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol level, blood sugar level, BMI. Always develop the knowledge about the medical conditions that one have. Eric Pfeiffer’s book also discussed the issues of concierge medicine, electronic medical record. Specific diseases or conditions associated with aging is discussed in the book to help retirees to understand the most common acute and chronic diseases associated with aging such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases to name a few.
Mental health is an important component of over all health with aging. “There is no health without mental health”. Positive or optimum mental health is the zest that gives spiritual inspiration and enjoyment to every act and every activities of life. This implies that mental health is the self-esteem, a positive mood, an adequate level of energy, a functioning memory and cognitive capacity, flexibility to adapt and resiliency to resist adversity. There are increased risk of mental health problems associated with aging – psychological or psychiatric or neuropsychological. Eric Pfeiffer advocates an active process for mental health management and treatment. Real improvement can not be achieved by medication alone.
The most important organ of human body perhaps is brain. How to maintain a sharp memory with aging is a challenging task. This is no surprise that many people said they feared loss of memory, mental capacity and ability to make decision more than they fear heart disease, stroke or cancer. There are 4 categories of memory issues associated with aging: normal forgetfulness, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia. Eric Pfeiffer’s book provide general principles as well as methods on how to prevent memory and cognitive impairments. His strategies include three parts: exercise the brain, nutrition the brain, protect the brain. Exercise the brain include specific designed programs for brain training and brain maintenance. Nutrition/feed the brain include physical exercises (bring oxygen and nutrients to the brain) as well as diet and supplements that boosts memory and brain function. Protect the brain is to avoid those risky physical activities that may injure the brain.
Physical exercises are important life style habit that promote longevity. The most beneficial types of exercise is the cardio exercise, resistance training including muscle-building, and flexibility/relaxation exercises. Eric Pfeiffer provides suggestions on charting the progress, how to overcome obstacles to exercise regularly.
The latter part of the book discussed how to manage finance for retirement, how to maintain independent living as well as how to manage long-term care. These are practical issues that require knowledge and planning. Eric Pfeiffer also emphasized the importance of “embracing inner spiritual self”. He discussed other forms of spirituality exist outside of religions. There is an quote section in the book from philosophers, authors, poets, scientists, ordinary people for general life lessons with Eric Pfeiffer’s comments.