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  • Merge Rehabilitation, PLLC

5 Common Health Mistakes Older Adults Make After Retirement - Croton-On-Hudson, NY, Physical Therapy

At a certain point in time many older adults can’t wait to reach retirement. They have hopes that life after retirement will come naturally and easily. As with many things in life this takes planning. Far too often, after retirement, many feel lonely, a bit depressed and eventually not as physically capable or mentally sharp as they used to be.

Below are 5 common mistakes to avoid to make the most out of your retirement.

1. Not having a new purpose in this new stage of your life-

For some people retirement can feel lonely, boring and meaningless. It is important to reestablish a sense of purpose in retirement to help combat feelings of depression and to improve your quality of life. Having increased purpose in life is linked to:

Less chronic disease / Better self rated health / Decreased pain / Decreased disability

Lower incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease / Being more physically active / Having less problems with sleeping

Purpose looks different for different people.

Action Step: Figure out what your new purpose in life will be. Whether it entails being a part of a group, taking care of someone, volunteering, learning something new, being a part of spirituality or church activities...

2. Sitting too much and not engaging in enough physical activity -

In retirement, many people end up doing very little, or much less than they used to and sitting for much of the day. The problem with this is that muscles are meant to be used and if you are not working them, they will get weaker. On top of that, if your muscles and joints are not moved throughout the day, they will get shorter and tighter and this can lead to poor posture and aches and pains. Not to mention the cardiovascular and pulmonary consequences of being sedentary:

Possible weight gain / Possible weakening of your heart / Decreased lung capacity

Weakened diaphragm / Buildup of plaque in your arteries

Action Step: Gradually increase the amount of physical activity you do every day; whether it be walking more and counting your steps per day or participating in a physical activity group.

3. Not exercising enough or participating in resistance training -

For some people walking may not be enough. We don’t mean to bad-mouth walking. Walking is great. The only problem is that it is very efficient. By that we mean that it doesn’t take much effort, it does not work your muscles much and it does not bring your muscles and joints to end-range. Now, if you are at the point where walking is challenging then we are not talking about you. Please continue walking and find a Therapist to assist you so that walking is not so difficult. For those where walking is not challenging; you need to participate in physical activity that will challenge your flexibility, muscle strength and cardiopulmonary endurance so that your body stays healthy and strong and you will continue to be able to do the things that you want to do.

Action Step: Start an exercise program and stick to it. If you are not sure what exercises to do, a Physical Therapist can provide you with a tailored exercise program to keep you active.

4. Thinking that pain and balance problems just come with age and there is nothing that can be done about it and/or waiting too long to see someone about it-

Many times pain and balance problems can be resolved with the correct combination of treatments. And, the longer you wait to see a specialist, the longer and harder it may be to resolve. Specialists such as physical therapists and chiropractors can help get to the root cause of your pain and balance problems and come up with a treatment plan based on your needs. This can help to prevent a small problem from becoming a bigger one.

Action Step: If you are having pain or balance problems, do not just ignore it. Try to find a solution. If you are unable to resolve them on your own, seek help from a specialist.

5. Thinking that you don't need Physical therapy because you are not sick or injured-

Many people think that physical therapy is only for people who cannot do anything for themselves, or for people who are sick or injured. This is certainly not the case. In fact, the CDC recommends that seniors 65+ have a yearly balance screening to detect balance problems before it's too late and they suffer a fall that leads to hospitalization and major debility.

Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy can help anyone who has physical or functional limitations (unsteady when walking or difficulty with everyday activities) or

simply has goals to improve so that they can take better care of themselves or enjoy life more fully.

Action Step: If you are not moving as well as you used to, get a balance screening from a Physical Therapist to determine if you are at risk for falls. And, if you are having more difficulty or need more help taking care of yourself then get an Occupational Therapy Evaluation.

As good health is necessary to make the most out of retirement, it is important to take a few moments to evaluate your health and where your abilities lie. Many physical health problems develop slowly. Without yearly evaluations little problems can get out of hand and are more difficult to resolve. It is important to see a Physical Therapist at least once a year to reevaluate your physical capabilities and put forth a plan of action to keep you safe in your home with less chance of falling.

Not sure where to start? Merge Rehab can help. We offer therapy in the convenience of your home to keep you active and mobile to be able to do the things you need to do and want to do.


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