Successful Retirement Life

There are eight keys that you should think about as you create this picture of your retirement life. This will give you a structure and foundation to build your plans.

1. Having a positive attitude towards towards your future

Your ability to ‘roll with the punches’ will dictate how you approach most areas of your future life. There are life changes that you can expect in retirement;, both positive and challenging. In fact, sociologists have identified at least six separate “life transitions” that will affect most people as they move through their retirement life (which is why we say that retirement isn’t one long life phase). Perhaps the greatest transition of all is the one that you see each time you look in a mirror and see yourself change . It is easy to forget that “getting older” is a physical issue, not a mental one. . As Satchel Page once asked, “How old would you be…if you didn’t know how old you are?”

2. A clear vision of the kind of life that you want.

When you think of the word ‘retirement’, what vision comes to mind? Is retirement a work issue for you, or maybe a financial and investment plan? Far too many pre retirees make the mistake of thinking that the financial plan and the retirement plan are the same thing–that the life part will take care of itself. This stage of your life deserves a more holistic look and plan than simply assuming that you are beginning a thirty-year long weekend. What do you want your life to look like? What changes do you anticipate along the way? How will you get the most out of each and every day? Those are important questions as you contemplate your move into this next phase of your life.

3. A healthy approach to mental and physical aging

It is one thing to say that you want to be positive about the future. If that is true for you, then healthy aging will be a major part of your retirement plans and lifestyle. Whiel the aging process is normal and affects us all in different ways, there are some things that we can all do to ensure that we “put time on our side” by looking after ourselves. Most people think that being healthy physically is the key to healthy aging. In retirement, healthy mental aging is just as important (and some would say even more so.) How much do you understand about the basic principles of healthy physical and mental aging? Are you doing something each and every day to nourish your need to use and expand your mind or to honor your body and do what you can to maintain your physical health?

4. A positive definition of ‘Work’

Your work is the thing that you do to contribute your skills, experience, labor or knowledge to society in some way. It is also a way for your to “self-actualize” and create positive stress in your life. Even when you leave the traditional workplace, you will still have a need to share your workplace strengths and transferable skills. If you have a positive attitude towards the workplace, then the desire to have a retirement free from any kind of work becomes irrelevant. A wise person once said, “If you love what you do, you never have to work again!” By the way, work doesn’t have to be full-time, it doesn’t have to be something you don’t like to do, and it doesn’t even have to be for pay! Many retirees use volunteering as a way to replace the things that they miss most about their previous work.

5. Nurturing family and personal relationships

Our close personal relationships define us, give us a purpose for living our lives and encourage us to create life goals. We all have a basic need to share our lives, experiences and life journey with those closest to us In retirement our friendships and close relationships may offer us the validation that we may have received in the workplace. Those relationships give us the opportunity to “connect” on many levels with someone close and to share ourselves. Psychologists have identified our desire to share ourselves as a basic human need. This need is often satisfied in the activities that we enjoy with our spouse or partner, friends and family.

Researchers have found that people in satisfying personal relationships have fewer illnesses and higher levels of good overall health. That’s the clinical rationale. In real life terms, having people close to you who will share your life and be there for you will not only add to your overall life enjoyment, but will also add years on to your life!

6. An active social network

As you get older, your social support network becomes increasingly important. You draw your social support network from a much broader social network. Successful retirees generally have robust social networks that provide them with friendship, fulfilling activities and life structure. As part of your retirement plan, you might want to think about the quality of the social network that you have today and your plans to build it. One of the lessons that we can learn about the aging process is that our social networks begin to shrink–if we aren’t continually adding to them. You can join clubs, meet new people and get out of the house to do new things. In retirement you are going to want a lot of people who you can count on and it makes good sense to continue to seek out new opportunities to socialize.

7. A balanced approach to leisure

Leisure is a fundamental human need. We use it to recharge our batteries, to act as a diversion in our lives, to create excitement, anticipation or simply to rest and contemplate. Things change, however, when leisure becomes the central focus of our lives. Leisure, by its very nature, loses its luster when it is the norm in our life rather than the diversion. For many retirees, the idea of leisure is associated with “not having to do anything”. In the end, a lack of stimulation affects our mental and emotional state and then ultimately our physical well being. There is a big difference between “time-filling” activities and “fulfilling” activities that we look forward to. In retirement, leisure activities often replace workplace functions to meet the basic needs that we have. Successful retirees balance their leisure over many different activities and take the opportunity to do new things and not get into a rut.

8. Maintaining ‘financial comfort’

Some retirees feel that a happy retirement is guaranteed by financial security. However, there is no price tag on successful retirement. As someone once said, “having a million dollars is NOT a retirement plan!” Financial comfort refers to being able to manage your life in a satisfying and fulfilling way using the financial resources that you have. If financial discomfort contributes to retirement stress, then your financial plan becomes a negative rather than a positive. The keys to achieving financial comfort are to have a clear understanding of the financial resources you have and the demands on your money that will come from the life you lead (both now and in the future). One good way to look at your financial situation in this next life phase is to think about the three “buckets” that you will have to keep filled in order to achieve financial comfort:

  • Your “essentials” bucket, which will pay for all of your basic needs
  • Your “lifestyle” bucket, which will fund those fun things that you dream of doing in retirement
  • Your “nest egg” bucket, which will fund any emergencies that may arise, provide you with a sense of security through good and challenging times and ultimately will form part of your legacy.

Staying Active as a Senior with Mesothelioma

Staying Active as a Senior with Mesothelioma

Maintaining physical fitness is a challenge for many seniors. Even seniors in good health struggle to keep up with regular exercise, often because life and health events interrupt attempts at maintaining a fitness routine.

Staying active is especially challenging for seniors coping with a serious disease like mesothelioma. This asbestos-related cancer most often grows around the lungs and greatly impairs lung function.

Mesothelioma tumors pressing against a lung cause breathing difficulties, which inhibit a person’s ability to withstand cardiovascular exercise.

The cancer can cause muscle and nerve pain in the arms, shoulder and chest, which can limit the ability to lift weights, use resistance bands and exercise on hard surfaces.

Fatigue and muscle loss are common among seniors with mesothelioma, which can make it difficult to engage in physical activities.

Despite the physical challenges of mesothelioma, seniors can maintain various levels of activity as they live with the cancer and undergo different treatments.

Maintaining physical activity can improve quality of life for people with mesothelioma, and it may improve certain mesothelioma symptoms, such as fatigue.

Tips to Stay Active While Living with Mesothelioma

People who are diagnosed in the early stages of mesothelioma and undergo multimodal treatment often live longer than three years with mesothelioma. Once these patients recover from surgery and chemotherapy, they can slowly begin to increase physical activity.

The majority is diagnosed in stage III or IV, and they live longer than one year. Some late-stage patients are living longer than three years by joining clinical trials to get access to innovative therapies that help to improve their prognosis.

Seniors with mesothelioma who find ways to remain physically active tend to feel better than those who don’t exercise. They often recover from cancer treatments quicker and some experience fewer or reduced side effects.

The following tips may help people with mesothelioma understand the kinds of activity they can safely do and how much is appropriate. It is important to discuss your physical activity with your oncologist to make sure you’re doing a healthy amount of exercise.

  • Strenuous and time-consuming exercise routines are not advised for seniors with mesothelioma.
  • Try gentle activities that focus on range of motion movements such as yoga, qigong and active stretching.
  • Light impact cardio exercise, such as walking, biking and swimming, is generally safe for cancer patients in otherwise good health.
  • If cardio exercise is challenging because of breathing difficulty or another physical limitation, try chair yoga, lifting one- or two-pound weights or a simple range of motion movements.
  • Start with five to 10 minutes of exercise and slowly work your way up to 30 minutes. It’s OK if you can only withstand five or 10 minutes, and don’t progress to 30 minutes. A little exercise is better than none.
  • Gently warm up and cool down your body with simple movements and stretches, or by walking, before and after aerobic exercise.
  • People who are recovering from surgery or chemotherapy can stretch in bed and slowly work their way up to walking around the house.
  • Physical therapy helps patients rehabilitate muscles and bodily function after surgery. The exercises are tailored to each patient’s unique patterns of muscle weakness and tension.

Innovative and targeted therapies are helping people to live longer with mesothelioma than in the past. There is motivation to maintain physical fitness. It will help you feel better in your body, boost energy and will help you recover from anticancer treatment.

If you need help staying active, reach out to family and friends for support. Ask a neighbor to take walks with you, or see if a family member will try yoga with you. Also, consider asking your oncologist about resources at your cancer center because some offer free fitness classes to seniors and cancer patients.

 

Sources:

NIH Senior Health. (n.d.). Exercise: How to stay active. Retrieved from http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exerciseandphysicalactivityhowtostayactive/makeexerciseahabit/01.html

NIH Senior Health. (n.d.). Exercise: Exercises to try. Retrieved from http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exerciseandphysicalactivityexercisestotry/enduranceexercises/01.html

Gilbert, H. (n.d.). Exercise guidelines for seniors and cancer patients. Retrieved from https://www.caring.com/articles/exercise-guidelines-seniors-cancer-patients

Tips for Enjoying Life After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Life changes with a diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer, but life doesn’t end.

Don’t stop living.

Recent advancements in therapy have tempered the gloom-and-doom attitude that once accompanied a diagnosis. Specialists have personalized the multidisciplinary treatment plans that can turn mesothelioma into a more manageable disease.

Survivors are living busy, productive lives, going three, four, five years and beyond without serious complications. Some even reach the decade mark.

Here are several tips that may make life more enjoyable as you live with a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Exercise

Start a regular, and enjoyable, exercise routine. It can be as simple as a regular walk around the block. Do something that makes your muscles work. Push yourself to move, even when you don’t feel all that well. You’ll be glad you did. Yoga and stretching is great. Ride a stationary bike at your own pace. Walk the dog. Just do something every day that provides some exercise.

Ease Your Mind

Find an experienced mesothelioma specialist. This isn’t always fun, but it will ease your worries, knowing you will be getting the best possible care. Most doctors, even oncologists, don’t understand the intricacies of this rare disease, which lessens your chance of survival. Once you have someone you trust, then you can enjoy life worry free.

Keep Living

Keep living your life. Keep doing what you did before, especially the things you liked to do. Don’t change your routine. Plant that spring garden because you’ll be around to harvest in the early fall. Start a new hobby. Find something to be passionate about. Visit the grandkids more. Don’t sit on the couch and sulk about this disease. Find things to keep your mind off the cancer, and you will live longer.

Everyone Likes to Eat

Fuel your body with healthy foods. It’s actually fun to eat healthy. You’ll be surprised how much better you can feel if you’re eating right. Talk to a nutritionist to get some ideas. There are foods that discourage cancer. Proper nutrition is critical, particularly if you’re going through any cancer treatments. You may lose your appetite, but don’t stop eating.

Go Back to School

Visit your local high school or community college. This might sound strange in your retirement years, but you’ll be surprised. Read a calendar of community events, and you’ll find concerts, plays, football games and other events open to the public. You’d be surprised how much fun it will be. It’s actually invigorating to be around a younger crowd like this.

Support Groups

Join a mesothelioma support group. Talking with others dealing with the same issues you are can be uplifting. With a rare cancer, there is often a feeling of isolation. Other mesothelioma patients will relate well to your concerns, often better than a doctor or nurse can.

Worship and Spirituality

Get more involved in your church, synagogue or wherever you worship. Join a Bible study group. Places of worship usually offer volunteer work, too, if you are physically strong enough. You’ll be surprised at the power of prayer. It works.

5 Secrets to a Happy Retirement

Retirement ought to be a happy time. You can set your own schedule, take long vacations, and start spending all the money you’ve been saving.

And for many retirees that holds true. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, people tend to start life happy, only to see their sense of well-being decline in adulthood. No surprise there: Working long hours, raising a family, and saving for the future are high-stress pursuits.

Once you reach age 65, though, happiness picks up again, not peaking until age 85. In a recent survey of MONEY readers, 48% retirees reported being happier in retirement than expected; only 7% were disappointed.

Read More

How Pets Can Help Seniors Cope with Mesothelioma

People with mesothelioma cancer commonly cope with physical and emotional pain to varying degrees. Patients who like animals may consider pet therapy as an alternative mesothelioma treatment. Pet therapy can help reduce physical pain and boost mental health.

Pet therapy involves interaction with an animal to help people cope with and recover from illness. An animal companion can ease feelings of stress and offer comfort to those facing cancer.

Scientific research shows pet therapy benefits cancer patients in numerous ways.

Proven Benefits of Pet Therapy

Spending time with a pet helps mesothelioma patients cope with the physical and mental challenges of cancer.

Physical benefits of pet therapy include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased alertness
  • Higher endorphin levels
  • Reduced pain
  • Stimulation of relaxation response by petting an animal

Mental health benefits of pet therapy include:

  • Elevated mood, lessened depression
  • Decreased feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Comfort and companionship
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Increased motivation
  • Boredom relief

Other benefits include lower medication costs and potentially longer life.

One scientific study on pet therapy documented a 57 percent reduction in stress and mood disturbances among participants.

How Pet Therapy Works

Pet therapy takes many forms. It may involve interaction with pets in a hospital or therapy setting, as well as owning and caring for a pet at home.

The animals most commonly used for pet therapy include dogs and cats. Other domesticated animals, such as fish and hamsters, may be used. Farm animals, such as horses, and marine mammals, such as dolphins, are used as well.

Animals used for therapeutic visitation, such as in hospitals, are specially trained to be around medical equipment and offer comfort to patients. Professional handlers accompany therapy pets during visitation and patients are encouraged to ask the handler questions about the pet.

Some animals assist physical and occupational therapists. Known as animal-assisted therapy, this form of pet therapy involves animals, especially dogs, in rehabilitation exercises. For example, a dog might play fetch with a patient who needs to improve motion in their limbs.

Cancer patients and their caregivers who can care for a pet at home often benefit from the companionship and comfort a pet provides. For example, taking a dog for a short walk motivates cancer patients to remain active. Curling up with a cat on the couch promotes a relaxation response, while petting a cat releases oxytocin, a feel-good endorphin that reduces pain.

Anyone with cancer will benefit from pet therapy, whether in the hospital, rehab facility or at home. Interacting with a friendly, fluffy animal promotes feelings of joy and comfort, and encourages people in tough situations to keep going. Ask your oncologist if pet therapy is available at your cancer center.

Successful Aging: It’s All in Your Attitude

In the mid 2000s, Irene Sinclair’s face adorned advertisements and billboards throughout the UK. As part of the Campaign for Real Beauty developed by Dove, the 96-year-old great grandmother was chosen to help challenge conventional thinking about beauty.

View of a beach with rolling waves

The award-winning campaign about positive aging was a tremendous success. Dove tapped into society’s negative expectations of aging, and asked people to reconsider them.

Read More

The Importance of Family Support for Seniors with Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer usually caused by occupational asbestos exposure. It may start with the diagnosis of the patient, but it quickly should become a family affair.

It will take a team to provide the best possible care.

A medical staff will determine the treatment regimen, but caregivers will decide just how well the patient lives. Those duties will grow as the cancer progresses.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for mesothelioma.

The typical life expectancy is 18 months, although recent mesothelioma clinical trials have allowed some patients to live two, three or four years longer and beyond.

Family support is imperative. This is not the time to be independent and go it alone. Make it a group effort.

Family caregivers can help guide mesothelioma patients in many ways.

Bring a Positive Attitude

Emotional support is sometimes as important as physical support.

A caregiver should be a steadying force. There will be ups and downs, good days and bad days for the patient, regardless of the cancer’s stage.

Being a good listener is key. Simple companionship will be critical. Provide hope to the patient. Encourage those who visit to come with a positive attitude.

Help Make Decisions

Even an independent patient is going to need help sorting out health insurance, treatment options, financial decisions and occasionally legal issues.

In earlier stages of the disease, there will be doctor appointments and medications to sort through. Later, there will be end-of-life decisions to help make.

Family members can also often provide details to the medical staff that a patient may not remember to provide.

Join a Support Group

Family caregivers can get ideas and help from a mesothelioma support group, just like a patient can. With a rare cancer like this, no one will know your situation and concerns better than someone else in a similar role.

Questions can be answered and ideas exchanged. Doctors and nurses won’t be around all the time. Support groups can help by phone, online or even in person if you are close.

Get Help with Everyday Chores

A mesothelioma patient often will need help with things like cooking meals, cleaning the home, walking the dog or going to the grocery store.

Things that once were taken for granted can become very important for a patient.

If you are the spouse or primary caregiver, ask others to help you.

Encourage Exercise

Mesothelioma patients benefit greatly from regular exercise on any level.

It will improve appetite, boost energy and improve mental health and mood. Exercise — even short, slow walks — will improve cardiovascular condition, muscular fitness and sleep.

Total bed rest is not recommended for cancer patients anymore.

Take Care of Yourself, Too

Caregiving for a mesothelioma patient can be overwhelming, mentally and physically.

A healthy, happy caregiver will provide better support.

Discover ways to eat right and exercise as a caregiver. Take breaks by enlisting other friends or family to help, giving you time away.

Find a way to reduce the stress of caregiving.

4 Healthy Activities for Seniors with Lung Cancer

Coping with lung cancer may require you to slow down, but you should never take it as a reason to stop being active.
While doctors used to recommend nothing but bedrest during cancer treatment, we now know inactivity poses a grave danger to seniors with cancer. Inactivity leads to poor physical fitness, which diminishes the benefits of medical treatments, and it also leads to a vicious cycle in which a constant state of fatigue further discourages you from being active. Inactivity also threatens your mental health, increasing the risk of anxiety and depression.

Staying active will increase your strength and appetite, as well as reduce your stress. You should always consult your doctor to make sure whatever you plan to engage in will support your treatment, but certain activities are well known to benefit seniors with lung cancer.

Yoga
There is a common misconception that yoga is all about strenuous contortions that demand extreme flexibility. In reality, the practice of yoga is as much about relaxation and mindfulness as it is about exercise.

Yoga positions can be adapted to comfortably accommodate any level of physical fitness, and there is a special type of yoga that utilizes props to support people in a relaxing posture. This gentle practice, called restorative yoga, is often recommended to seniors with cancer. If you experience difficulty breathing, yoga’s emphasis on breathing techniques will greatly benefit you.

Gardening
You don’t have to go to a gym or walk a five-mile circuit to get a healthy amount of exercise. A modest task like gardening may not seem like a championship workout, but any time you spend working with your hands is good for your mind and your body.

The added advantage of gardening is that you can improve your diet by growing your own vegetables and low-sugar fruit. Fruits and vegetables reduce inflammation, give you plenty of fiber, and provide balanced nutrition that supports cancer treatments. It doesn’t have to be all salad either, as cooked vegetables are often better for you because they are easier to digest.

Pet Therapy
If you want to get even more engaged with nature, pet therapy might be the thing for you. Pet therapy simply means spending time with the sort of animals you enjoy.

Feeding ducks or turtles at a pond is an easy and relaxing activity that will get you up and out of the house. If you’d rather stay indoors, a cat can provide a quiet form of companionship, and even something as simple as watching a fish swim can set your mind at ease.
Walking a dog will reduce your stress and give you a light workout at the same time. Don’t worry if you think you’ll have trouble keeping up with a puppy — there are plenty of senior dogs out there who would prefer to take it as easy as you do.

Dancing
Perhaps you prefer to spend your leisure time with a human partner. Dancing is another great activity that can be as easy or as challenging as you want it to be. Exercise doesn’t have to be a serious or repetitive endeavor, after all. You will find you can get the most exercise when you are just having fun.
Taking up dancing also creates natural opportunities for meeting people and socializing. If you’re a long-time dancer, hold on to that rich aspect of your life. If you’re new to the dancefloor, it’s never too late to learn.

Don’t Let Cancer Stop You from Doing the Things You Love

A cancer diagnosis can be life changing, but it doesn’t have to change your life.

Cancer comes in many types and stages, each with its own prognosis unique to the individual. But the one thing all cancer patients share is the will to fight.

Courage knows no bounds, and most cancer survivors will tell you that the key is staying positive.

Some battles will be tougher than others, but you should never give up. You should never give in. If you give up the things you enjoy about life, you let the cancer win.

Every cancer survivor story is inspiring in its own way, but some show that even against the greatest of odds, anything is possible.

Take some examples of survivors of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer that forms on the protective tissues of the lungs and abdomen. Mesothelioma is rare, with an estimated 3,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. annually, and the cancer is very aggressive. Because of a latency period of 20 to 50 years and early symptoms that mirror less serious conditions, mesothelioma is often diagnosed in the late cancer stages when prognosis is generally poor.

But there are numerous stories of strong men and women who pushed the limits and beat the odds. These some of these people have lived from several years up to 10 years or more past their prognoses.

Registered nurse Beth Mixon is a 16-year survivor of peritoneal mesothelioma, which develops on the lining of the abdomen. She credits integrative medicine and thinking “outside the box” as reasons for her survival.

Fellow peritoneal survivor Joyce Montgomery was told six years ago she had only 10 months to live. She credits her strong faith as a reason for living far beyond her expected prognosis.

Lifelong motorcycle enthusiast Al Moylan didn’t let his pleural mesothelioma diagnosis stop him from doing what he loves. The 80-year-old recently joined family and friends for a 120-mile back roads ride to Curtis’ All American Barbecue in Putney, Vermont.

When he’s not riding his Harley-Davidson, Moylan stays active even though the cancer and treatments have slowed his pace considerably.

For Ellis Gill, who was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in the fall of 2014, playing a round of golf was exhausting, yet invigorating. Gill returned to his favorite golf club earlier this year after recovering from chemotherapy and anemia that left him barely able to walk.

Other than their diagnoses, these men and women share another commonality: A refusal to give up on life or hope. Despite fatigue from chemotherapy or complications from surgery, they awake each day with a sense of purpose instead of doom.

They understand that without hope, life has no meaning.

A cancer diagnosis, especially an aggressive type such as mesothelioma, can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. A positive outlook can do wonders when combined with a variety of treatments.

Cancer shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you love. If anything, it should inspire you to fight to continue your way of life, or even accomplish a “bucket list.”

So go on that dream trip. Take that adventure you’ve always talked about. Or simply use your diagnosis to motivate you to get back on a motorcycle or the golf course.

Read more stories of hope and resilience on The Mesothelioma Center’s Wall of Hope

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