A FOCUS ON FITNESS: The Three Keys to Wellness MENTAL WELL-BEING: Keep your mind active and alert AGING PARENTS: What Baby Boomers Should Know About Caring For Their Parents

When most people think of retirement, they immediately smile. Without even trying, they relax just picturing themselves spending time with their grandchildren, fishing on a lazy, shaded river, or taking trip after trip to all of the places they’ve spent their working life dreaming about. Even though retirement is something to look forward to, a host of unknowns make it somewhat frightening. As retirement approaches, serious questions begin to arise. Will I be healthy enough to enjoy my retirement? Will there be enough money to support my family’s wants and needs? What if I become bored after a few years and begin to feel useless?

These are common and legitimate questions; fortunately, plenty of answers are available to make sure retirement years are prime years. Anyone who is in their 50s still has plenty of time before retirement arrives. But don’t get too comfortable, Baby Boomers. Fifty is the perfect age to take action and begin preparing for retirement physically, mentally, and financially. And, 50 is also becoming the year that people begin to focus on someone else’s retirement years-those of their parents. In addition to preparing for and anticipating their own retirement, today’s Baby Boomers are also caring for their parents’ needs, from helping them determine a financial plan or moving them to a senior community to possibly caring for them at home. With more peopie living longer, the possibility exists that an older adult and his parents will be retired at (he same time, and the responsibility to handle both lives will be in the hands of the child.

With so much to consider, industry experts say those in their 50s need to shift their focus away from worrying about and fighting growing older to preparing for and enjoying it.

“Those approaching retirement age need to think about adding life to their years, not years to their life,” says Tina Hahn, LMSW/ACP, Geriatric Service Manager at Medical City Dallas/Columbia Hospitals. “The bottom line is attitude.”

To have the right attitude, now is the time to get in shape for retirement. Here, industry experts offer a jump-start for anyone who’s hesitant to face the inevitable-growing older- and everything that goes with it. Fifty-plus can be fabulous with the right course of action.

Well before age 50, people begin noticing the signs of aging. More lines appear around the eyes. Pounds seem to slick around a little longer. And for some reason, the knees don’t cooperate like they once did. Toni Beck, coordinator of the 55+ Program at Baylor Fitness Center in the Tom Landry Sports Medicine and Research Center, says older adults need to accept these changes and work on maintaining what they do have, rather than struggling to find that coveted Fountain of Youth.

“You can’t defy the aging process, but you can accept it.” Beck says. “Accept where you are, and enjoy that phase of life to the fullest. Don’t pretend to be 25 when you’re 50. Be the best 50 you can be.”

Baby Boomers and older adults need to become more active in their daily life. Beck says, to remain healthy. Walking, running, biking-any kind of aerobic activity-are all part of the three keys to wellness: strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Beck says people lose about one percent of their lean muscle mass every year, and without lean muscle mass, bones become weak, causing osteoporosis and other crippling diseases. Without regular exercise, the loss of” lean muscle mass is replaced with fat. Experts recommend older adults alternate aerobic workouts with weight training at least 30 minutes a day to keep bones and muscles strong and to get rid of fat.

The good news for older adults is that a 50-year-old today is younger than a 50-year-old just 20 years ago, thanks to the barrage of healthy lifestyle messages that are finally sinking in.

“1 think the 50-plus age-group is very self-conscious of their image.” Beck says. “Hopefully, more people will use this fear to foster a high degree of wellness for themselves, rather than just to be vain.”


“One thing you’ll never hear anyone say is, T hope to live to be old and sick,’” says Donna Preston, clinical nutrition specialist with Presbyterian Senior Medical Centers. “The way to avoid being old and sick is to begin a healthy lifestyle, and 50 is as good of a place as any to start.”

Preston recommends that adults 50 and older try to maintain a plant-based diet that includes an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals and antioxidants found in red, yellow, orange, and dark green vegetables and fruits help fight heart disease and cancer.

Adhering to a healthy diet rich with vitamins, nutrients, and protein is essential in preventing a variety of illnesses and diseases that seem to commonly affect older adults. Dr. Adina Logan. M.D., who specializes in internal Medicine at RHD Memorial Medical Center/Tenet, says anyone over the age of 50 needs to start preventive care for osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis, and high blood pressure and cholesterol, which are common in aging adults.


While keeping the body fit and healthy is important, exercising the mind is just as crucial. A growing concern among senior health care specialists is depression among older adults. Although the period from age 50 on is known as prime living, many older adults find themselves feeling lonely, depressed, and useless without the routine of a daily job, social life, or family. Retirement is also a time many people find themselves dealing with personal or family problems that they avoided facing while in the workforce.

“When you’re younger, you get to go to work every day and use the excuse that you’re too busy to worry about other things in your life,” Hahn says. “But when you don’t go to work anymore, a lot of suppressed feelings and worries begin to surface. We lose a sense of ourselves when we no longer work, even when we’re ready to retire.”

Agitation, frustration, and lack of motivation are only a few of the symptoms of depression in older adults. Often, after the first month or so of retirement, life isn’t everything it was expected to be, and depression or anger sets in. To avoid this, experts recommend planning early. Determine a retirement plan now, and make it a lengthy plan. People in their mid~60s are expected to live well into their 80s and beyond, so at age 50, almost another half of life remains.

The way Preston puts it, be sure to have a life. Rather than fumbling around for anything at all to keep occupied, think about pursuing longtime dreams, activities, and goals.

“You must have interests and passions,” Preston says. “Keep your social and work contacts. Feeling motivated and having a purpose-that’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. This doesn’t change in retirement.”

Ironically, retirement can also be the perfect time for a second career for those who want to continue to work, but in another field. Hahn says she knows many seniors who tackled their dream career at age 70.

Luckily, at age 50, plenty of time remains to decide what to do during retirement. Think about what you get to do, not what you have to do. Get all of the ’what if” thinking over with now so plans and dreams can be fulfilled on the first day of retirement.

For older married adults, planning for time at home during retirement also means taking a closer look at marital or family relationships. Hahn says depression is actually quite common among empty-nesters who retire together but who haven’t been fostering a healthy relationship through the years. Being in the same home together all day, every day may be something that hasn’t occurred throughout the marriage. Failing to plan for this stage of marriage can cause problems, she says.

“We do such a good job throughout our working lives suppressing our thoughts and emotions,” Hahn says. “They’ll emerge when we least expect it-during retirement. Be prepared and equipped to handle the obstacles that could come your way.”


the point of retiring is that we finally have the time and freedom to do whatever we want, when we want. However, some of today’s Baby Boomers’ retirement is filled caring for their aging parents. Fortunately, planning for a senior parent’s care can be research for the older adult child to prepare himself for the day he reaches the same age or situation.

“Baby Boomers are kind of the sandwich generation,” Hahn says. ’They are in-between in a lot of areas, and one of those is caring for their aging parents. Learn from them as they prepare their will, handle their financial situation, take care of a power of attorney, or sign mental health declarations. Help them make sure their business is taken care of, and do the same for yourself now.”

Children of older adults should understand their parents are experiencing a considerable level of loss. Their friends and loved ones have passed away; they have to leave their home to move into a retirement community, and their health might be failing. Because of this, seniors are often resistant to change, and the responsibility lies with the children to ease them into a new life in which they can continue to thrive.

Seniors who are still able to live quite capably on their own but don’t have the physical strength to maintain their own home anymore may find a senior independent living community is a better housing option. Dallas’ Classic Residence by Hyatt and Bedford’s EdenGardens are upscale, luxury retirement apartment communities for independent, healthy seniors. Residents live in these communities just as they did in their own homes. They can come and go from their safe, modern, and spacious apartments as they please, but they have the advantages of transportation, a maid and repair service, and first-class restaurant-style dining.

“The time always comes when an aging person finds their neighborhood in transition,” says Sharon Lackey, sales manager at Dallas’ Classic Residence by Hyatt. “Seniors begin to feel isolated and depressed. If they have the opportunity, good health, and financial means to relocate to a senior community, they will be surrounded by their peers can interact with them socially.”

With services such as fine dining, transportation, social activities, exercise classes, spa therapy, and an in-house hair salon, bank, and physician clinic-as well as excursions to nearby attractions, cultural events, and shopping-all included in the rent, senior community living is often more than worth the move.

Preston Place in Piano and Meadowstone Place in Dallas, both independent retirement communities, firmly believe in nurturing their residents’ bodies, minds, and spirits. In addition to exercise programs and non-denominational worship services, both communities have recently teamed up with Richland Community College’s Emeritus Program to bring residents free weekly college classes.

Even though this luxury lifestyle may sound appealing, seniors are often reluctant to leave their longtime homes. Experts suggest children of older adults ease their parents into the process by attending a senior community’s social functions or having lunch in the community’s restaurant to familiarize them with the lifestyle. Most often, seniors are surprised at the amenities and conveniences they find and are more open to discussing a move.

“The generation of residents we have here are very independent.” says Susan Ayling, director of EdenGardens’ Bedford community. “They survived the Depression and fought the War. They don’t like to ask for help.”

The stages following independent living at senior communities are assisted living and nursing homes. Assisted living is typically necessary once seniors lose the ability to independently care for themselves but are still relatively healthy. EdenGardens’ North Richland Hills community offers both independent and assisted living so that, if needed, a resident can easily transfer from one area of the community to another without leaving the property.

Mesquite’s Christian Care Community and Dallas’ new Caruth Haven Court offer independent and assisted living, as well as nursing home care. Residents can rest assured knowing they won’t have to make another traumatic move should their condition change.


While industry experts in senior health care warn about preparing early for retirement, they also celebrate the opportunity. No longer is aging a frightening thought. With people becoming more active, healthier, and smarter about growing old, more options are available, and the possibilities are endless.

“When you’re 50, enjoy the fact that you’re going to possibly be around another 50 years,” Beck says. “Make it a good life. Take care of yourself now so you can live well then, and enjoy every phase as it comes to you.”

At EdenCare, our associates tailor both care and life enriching programs to meet the unique needs and preferences of each individual. Our holistic approach of caring for mind, body and spiritR maximizes our residents happiness, healthfulness and independence.

Communities feature beautiful dining rooms with your choice of scrumptious meals, motivational wellness programs, dances, group trips, social events, scheduled transportation, life enriching activities and housekeeping services.

For more infomation please call an EdenCare community near you, or visit our website at www. edencare. net.

Resource Directory: Prime Living


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