23 February 2019
Staying healthy and engaging in meaningful social activities can help the elderly enjoy their golden years. Photo: Bloomberg
Staying healthy and engaging in meaningful social activities can help the elderly enjoy their golden years. Photo: Bloomberg

How to achieve a wonderful life after retirement

In Hong Kong people often talk about “the third age”, or the stage of life after one turns 65 or older, when one normally feels less burdened by society, work or family pressures.

I disagree with the view that people at this stage are entering the dawn of their life. Instead, I believe the elderly can enjoy much more room to build the life pattern they want and have sufficient time to pursue their ideals.

If life is a symphony of different chapters, we are the conductors. And “the third age” can definitely become a great “Chapter 3″ if we have a positive attitude and do the right things both physically and mentally.

To live a wonderful life after entering the so-called third age, nothing is more important than staying healthy since people at this stage are naturally physically weaker and are prone to suffer some common diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

Always bear in mind that prevention is better than cure. To achieve that, regularly going for physical exams and enhancing knowledge and skills on disease prevention are necessary.

Maintaining a healthy life pattern is also of vital importance. The first thing to watch out is food. As such, it is highly recommended that people follow the “3 Low and 1 High” principle of balanced diet. The former refers to low fat, low sugar and low salt while the latter pertains to high fiber.

Taking exercise regularly and persistently is just as important as eating healthy. It is even better to take aerobic ones, such as running or swimming, as suggested by the American Heart Association. Meanwhile, try to quit smoking and drinking, which can heighten the risks of obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

Aside from keeping in good shape, retired people also need to keep a positive mindset to really live a fully healthy life. I suggest they do the following four things:

First, think positively. Retirement from work means a new beginning of life. If people do not know how to deal with “the third age” stage they are in, going to some related seminars can help them understand better and therefore be well-prepared.

Second, be open to communication. Instead of keeping problems to themselves, retired people should talk them out to their family members or friends. Even if problems cannot be solved by doing so, it is better to have someone to share worries.

Third, express gratitude and appreciation more often. By thanking others for what they do for us or complimenting people for doing a job well, it can make ourselves feel happy.

Meanwhile, one should learn to manage emotions. If you become agitated, it is recommended that you pause and take a deep breath to pull yourself out of the situation that makes you angry, so that you can think rationally and objectively.

Fourth, participate in as many social activities as possible. In so doing retired people can enjoy a sense of fulfillment and learn that they can use their skills and experience to make contributions to their families or the society, which will in turn boost their self-confidence and sense of participation.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 13

[Chinese version 中文版]

Translation by Taka Liu

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The vice-director of research of the Nethersole School of Nursing of the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

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