Promoting an active lifestyle for older people has always been the central theme of my working career over the last thirty years.
In your working life, it is your job that drives you to get up early in the morning, rain or shine. When you retire, the loss of this strong motivation needs to be filled. Initially most people have a backlog of chores around the house to do, in between the holidays and trips that were put off while you were at work. This immediate post-retirement period has its own momentum while you enjoy the new found freedom from workday responsibility, but then what’s next ?
The transition into long-term retirement has no road map – you have to find your own way. Family, volunteering, hobbies or a new interest all offer answers that fill the early years after work.
An interesting piece of research at The Institute of Health at Maryland in the USA studied older peoples’ lives in retirement. They gave MRI scans to over 4,000 people with an average age of 76 who specifically did not have dementia or depression. They studied levels of apathy amongst the group by asking them questions about their current lifestyle. Indications of apathy were – lack of interest; lack of emotion; dropping activities and interests, preferring to stay at home and having lack of energy.
They found a correlation between those people with a high number of indications of apathy and accelerated brain disease.
The moral of the story:-