Ad­vice to my newly re­tired mother

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FIFTY PLUS - By Mon­ica Paulino

There are thou­sands of ar­ti­cles, books, and web­sites to help fi­nan­cially pre­pare you for re­tire­ment. You can cal­cu­late how much you will need to live on, when to be­gin col­lect­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity, and how to down­size to min­i­mize liv­ing ex­penses.

There is con­sid­er­ably less guid­ance to tell you what to do when you ac­tu­ally reach that dis­tant dream. As some­one who works with re­tired peo­ple ev­ery day, it amazes me how many peo­ple are un­pre­pared — truly at a loss — when it comes to be­ing re­tired, day in and day out. Days that you thought would be filled with grand ad­ven­tures tem­pered with sies­tas and happy hours are sud­denly very busy with doc­tor ap­point­ments, phone calls to in­surance com­pa­nies, and oblig­a­tory babysit­ting. The next thing you know you’re count­ing the hours be­tween Kelly Ripa and Jeop­ardy.

The for­mula for a suc­cess­ful re­tire­ment is sim­ple: each and ev­ery month, with­out fail, try some­thing new. Here’s why: 1. The older we get, the smaller our world could be­come. We might go from mon­i­tor­ing our goal of 10,000 steps a day and to the 12 steps be­tween the kitchen and the easy chair. It is im­por­tant that we con­tinue phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity to main­tain strength and mo­bil­ity, thereby re­duc­ing the risks of falls and dis­ease

2. The older we get, the more risk averse we could be­come. As chil­dren es­tab­lish their own fam­i­lies and/or we leave paid em­ploy­ment, we will have more time on our hands. And then we be­gin to spend that time wor­ry­ing! We worry about the kids, the grand­kids, our health, their health, our sav­ings, es­ca­lat­ing costs, etc., etc., etc. Our wor­ry­ing could stop us from get­ting out of the house. We are in­creas­ingly hes­i­tant. We can be­come more afraid.

3. The older we get, the fewer peo­ple we will likely have in our in­ner cir­cle. If re­tired from paid em­ploy­ment, we go from numer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties and work friends and col­leagues … to spouse and fam­ily, to tele­vi­sion per­son­al­i­ties and the mail­man. We can get lonely. A sim­ple Google search about lone­li­ness and iso­la­tion in se­niors re­veals a world of ill­ness that no amount of fi­nan­cial plan­ning will mit­i­gate.

Com­mit­ting to and sched­ul­ing some­thing new ev­ery sin­gle month once you re­tire will keep you en­gaged men­tally, phys­i­cally, emo­tion­ally and spir­i­tu­ally. You will de­velop the skills and re­serves you will need for a

full and en­gaged “golden years.” If you keep learn­ing – keep ex­plor­ing – “things new” you will keep you young.

Learn­ing, in­deed, is the foun­tain of youth.

We are blessed in Ch­ester County to have so many op­por­tu­ni­ties to try new things. We have won­der­ful out­door spa­ces and lots of walk­ing trails. We have se­nior-friendly classes at lo­cal com­mu­nity cen­ters and fit­ness fa­cil­i­ties, cook­ing classes at adult schools and area gro­cery stores, ex­ten­sive vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties at so­cial ser­vice agen­cies, day care cen­ters, the­aters, or other non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions in the area.

Go to a lo­cal house of wor­ship and stay for cof­fee hour. Join a book club.

Do some­thing – do any­thing! If you try it and hate it – who cares? There is al­ways next month.

Pro­mot­ing Se­nior Well­ness is pro­vided by The Hick­man, a Quak­er­af­fil­i­ated li­censed per­sonal care home in West Ch­ester. This col­umn was writ­ten by Mon­ica Paulino, As­sis­tant Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor.

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