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Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging: How to Find Happiness and Vitality for a Lifetime

Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging: How to Find Happiness and Vitality for a Lifetime

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Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging: How to Find Happiness and Vitality for a Lifetime

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Oct 1, 2014


Doctor-approved tips to stay strong and feel good into your golden years from Mayo Clinic, #1 on US News & World Report’s 2020-2021 Best Hospitals Honor Roll.
This book from the world-renowned Mayo Clinic explains the ways your body changes as you age—and what you can do to slow those processes and reduce your risk of serious health problems. Discover:
• 7 habits that make the difference in how you look, how you feel and how you age
• 8 effective habits of men and women who sleep soundly, night after night
• What you can do to maintain your vision
• 6 ways to avoid or reverse embarrassing and uncomfortable urinary changes
• Advice on maintaining bone strength and muscle mass and avoiding aches and pains
• How to recognize common health risk factors and spot them early—to make treatments easier and potentially save your life
• Information on conditions from depression to gastrointestinal disorders
• 9 ways to cope with major life changes gracefully and keep your stress in check, and more
Supporting both your emotional and your physical health, this guide offers many options for staying young and healthy—and the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll enjoy the benefits.
Oct 1, 2014

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Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging - Mayo Clinic




Edward T. Creagan, M.D., FAAHPM

Medical Editor

Mayo Clinic

Rochester, Minnesota

Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging provides reliable information about dealing with the common physical, emotional and lifestyle-related changes that occur with aging. Much of the information comes directly from the experience of health care professionals at Mayo Clinic. This book supplements the advice of your personal physician, whom you should consult for individual medical problems.

This book does not endorse any company or product. MAYO, MAYO CLINIC and the Mayo triple-shield logo are marks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in review.

For bulk sales to employers, member groups and health-related companies, contact Mayo Clinic Health Solutions, 200 First St. SW, Rochester, MN 55905, or send an email to

Published by Mayo Clinic

© 2013 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2013935416

First Edition

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

ISBN ePub edition: 9780795336331

Editorial staff

Medical Editor

Edward T. Creagan, M.D., FAAHPM

Managing Editor

Jennifer L. Duesterhoeft

Product Manager

Christopher C. Frye

Editorial Director

Paula M. Marlow Limbeck

Creative Director

Daniel W. Brevick

Art Director

Richard A. Resnick


Joanna R. King, Michael A. King

Editorial Research

Anthony J. Cook, Amanda K. Golden, Deirdre A. Herman, Erika A. Riggin


Miranda M. Attlesey, Donna L. Hanson, Julie M. Maas


Downtown Bookworks, Inc., New York, NY

Sara N. DiSalvo, project manager

Laura J. Smyth, production perdson

Contributing Editors and Reviewers

Julie A. Abbott, M.D.

Amindra S. Arora, M.B., B.Chir.

Ananda Basu, MBBS, M.D.

Brent A. Bauer, M.D.

J. Michael Bostwick, M.D.

Robert D. Brown, M.D.

Erik P. Castle, M.D.

April Chang-Miller, M.D.

Darryl S. Chutka, M.D.

Bart L. Clarke, M.D.

Stephanie S. Faubion, M.D.

Jean C. Fox, M.D.

Martha Grogan, M.D.

David S. Knopman, M.D.

Keith G. Kramlinger, M.D.

Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

Mark Liebow, M.D.

Scott C. Litin, M.D.

Charles L. Loprinzi, M.D.

David E. Midthun, M.D.

Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D.

Paul D. Pettit, M.D.

Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.

Lynne T. Shuster, M.D.

Paul Y. Takahashi, M.D.

John M. Wilkinson, M.D.


Steve Rath

Administrative Assistant

Beverly J. Steele


This book is one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. Why? Because it can help ensure that your later years are some of your best years.

Everybody knows the numbers; everybody reads the newspapers. We all know that individuals are living far longer now than in any time in history. We all know that modern medicine and technologies have pushed the envelope so that many people are still finding themselves well into their 80s and 90s. Does this happen by luck? Is this a roll of the dice? Absolutely not.

Living healthy isn’t simply a reflection of personal genetics. It results from a combination of many factors including fitness, nutrition, preventive care, your personal outlook and your relationships - in addition to genetic influences. In other words, good health and well-being are generally the result of smart decisions and the right attitude.

The Mayo Clinic Plan for Healthy Aging is a compass. It’s an instruction manual to help guide you and give you the tools you need to live life to its maximum - to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

This book provides you the motivation, energy and knowledge to craft a future that’s fulfilling and invigorating - no matter what that may be. The dedicated individuals who put this book together want you to fully enjoy what can be the most creative and meaningful years of your life.

The ball is in your court. Your hands are at the helm. The quality of your life now and in the future depends on the choices that you make today. Choose wisely!

Good luck and all the best as your personal journey unfolds.

Edward T. Creagan, M.D., FAAHPM

Medical Editor

Table of contents

Part 1: Taking charge of your future

Chapter 1 - It’s all about attitude

A new perspective on age-old questions

How to live to your full potential

Chapter 2 - Planning ahead

The importance of early planning

Questions to guide your planning

Are you ready to retire?

If you’re having trouble with retirement

Chapter 3 - Having a purpose in life

What’s important to you?

Determining your purpose in life

Exploring new horizons

Maintaining your identity

Part 2: Your action plan for a healthy life

Chapter 4 - Slow the flow

Brain and nervous system changes

Cardiovascular changes

Dental changes

Digestive changes

Hearing changes

Immune system changes

Metabolism, hormone and weight changes

Respiratory changes

Sexual changes

Skeletal and muscular changes

Skin and hair changes

Sleep changes

Urinary changes

Vision changes

An individual process

Chapter 5 - Respond to your risks

Inactive lifestyle

Being overweight

Excess stress

Excessive alcohol use


Family genes

How to change behaviors

Chapter 6 - Think positive and stay connected

Changes and transitions

Optimism and your health

Social companionship and your health

Spiritual ties and your health

Chapter 7 - Challenge your brain

Common changes over time

Strategies for staying mentally sharp

Chapter 8 - Challenge your body

What’s in it for you?

Getting started

Aerobic exercise

Strength training

Core stability training

Flexibility exercises

Balance exercises

Exercise guide

Staying motivated

Avoiding aches and pains

The payoff

Chapter 9 - Eat as if your life depended on it

How to eat well

The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid

Do you need to lose weight?

The right way to lose weight

Sizing up servings

Shaking your salt habit

Stay off the SOFAs

Small changes add up

You can do it

Chapter 10 - Use supplements wisely

Vitamin and mineral supplements

An overview of other popular supplements

Be supplement savvy

Chapter 11 - Be proactive with your health care

Developing a good relationship with your doctor

How often to see your doctor

Recommended vaccinations

Recommended tests and those to consider

Managing your medications

Part 3: Other important issues

Chapter 12 - Insurance issues


Getting Medicare coverage

Making a decision

Long-term care insurance

Chapter 13 - Future health planning issues

Advance directives

Preparing your directives

Chapter 14 - Independence issues

Tools for living smarter

Housing options

Part 4: Quick guide

Alzheimer’s disease



Coronary artery disease



Upper gastrointestinal disorders

Lower gastrointestinal disorders

High blood pressure


Sexual disorders in women

Sexual disorders in men


Urinary disorders


Part 1

Taking charge of your future

Chapter 1

It’s all about attitude

You don’t like the thought of growing older? Well, guess what? You don’t have to. Sure, the calendar may remind you that another year has passed, but that doesn’t mean that you have to act, feel or look like you’re old.

Getting older is a choice, not a sentence. You can just as easily make up your mind — and tell your body — to remain at age 50 the rest of your life, as you can accept the physical and mental declines associated with passage into your 60s, your 70s, your 80s and beyond.

The truth is, aging isn’t a roll of the dice. You don’t have to get old, if you don’t want to. That’s because getting older doesn’t inevitably lead to dis-ease, decline and dependence, as so many people believe. No matter what your chronological age, you can continue to enjoy good health, happiness and an active lifestyle.

Think about it. The years ahead can truly be a time of growth, creativity and renewal. Now that your children are grown up and out of the house and with more time on your hands, you finally can take the time to do the things you always wanted to do. For many people, these years present an opportunity to explore and discover new things, pursue long-awaited goals, nurture relationships and live with a keener sense of purpose and meaning. The golden years can be rich, indeed.

If you haven’t yet reached retirement, it’ll come sooner than you think — and it’s never too early to start thinking ahead. To truly enjoy the years that await you, it’s important to make good choices now that will lead you down the right path.

This book explores many aspects of what you need to do and need to know to live stronger, longer and healthier at any age! The chapters that follow will provide you with tips, tools and strategies to help you feel young for years to come. Keep in mind, there’s no single definition of successful aging. The process unfolds continually and varies from one person to another. If you’ve got the right attitude, the choices you make will be the right ones.

To get the most out of what’s often termed the best years of your life, your first challenge is to examine your ideas and attitudes about aging.

A new perspective on age-old questions

Since the dawn of history, philosophers, poets, scientists and explorers have set out to understand the mysteries of aging. What does it mean to grow older? How can we live longer? What creates fulfilling later years? Though no one has discovered the Fountain of Youth yet, ideas about age have certainly changed.

What’s old?

Wearing tight jeans and a leather jacket, Mick Jagger can tear up the stage and work a crowd into a frenzy. Is this guy old? Most people would say no. But Jagger is turning 70. Some of his contemporaries in their 60s and early 70s: Robert De Niro, Paul McCartney, Cher, Harrison Ford, Martha Stewart, Bruce Springsteen and Sigourney Weaver. Little Richard, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman and Clint Eastwood are even older. They are the new faces of old.

It’s not just rock stars and celebrities who are redefining what it means to be old. Across America, millions of older people are using their later years to create new lives. They’re trying new careers, volunteering, going back to school and pursuing passions.

Clearly, old isn’t what it used to be. And as America’s 76 million baby boomers approach retirement, the definition of old will continue to evolve.

Age is what you make of it

Age isn’t just a number. Reaching age 18 doesn’t automatically make someone a grown-up. This same way, you’re not suddenly old when you hit 65, become a grandparent or go through menopause. You’re only old when you think you are and act like it. Age is an attitude. Once again, just in case you missed it — age is an attitude. Of course, aging is a physical process. But it also encompasses the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of a person.

While your body ages to some degree, your mind, for the most part, will stay as young as you feel. If you expect to live a long life filled with physical vitality, humor and close relationships, that belief can become the internal map that guides your future. But if you’re convinced that your later years will bring emptiness, depression and sickness, these negative beliefs can actually make you age faster.

In a study of women’s attitudes as they move into their 50s, 60s and 70s, more than half define aging well as feeling great, no matter what their age. They don’t see themselves as slowing down or stopping — they’re just getting started. Four in 10 women older than age 65 said there’s no age they’d define as old. Most people who live long, healthy lives aren’t exceptional. They’re just regular folks who don’t equate old with illness and inactivity. They keep running companies, painting, playing the piano, skiing, swimming, helping in the community, and enjoying good times with friends and family.

What’s a long life?

Anyone can get old, said Groucho Marx. All you have to do is live long enough.

Long enough is a relative concept, especially when viewed through the lens of history. One way to define a long life is to measure it against the average life expectancy — the average number of years a person can expect to live. In 2009, the latest figures available, the average life expectancy at birth in the United States was 78.5 years. But some of us will live to be more than 100.

Life expectancy has risen steadily over the centuries. During the Roman Empire, the average person reached the ripe old age of 22 years. By the Middle Ages, a person in England could expect to live to 33. In the early 1900s, life expectancies in developed countries ranged from 35 to 55.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Saving the best for last

Creativity and productivity are ageless. Here are some well-known people who achieved great things in their later years.

Frank Lloyd Wright was working on the Guggenheim Museum when he died at age 91.

Georgia O’Keeffe kept painting well into her 90s, even as her eye-sight failed.

At age 70, Dr. William W. Mayo founded Mayo Clinic.

Homemaker Irma Rombauer wrote Joy of Cooking at age 60.

Former President Ronald Reagan was elected to his second term at age 73.

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books in her 50s and 60s.

Astronaut John Glenn returned to space at age 77, more than three decades after his first mission.

In his 60s, Tom Coughlin coached the New York Giants to two Super Bowl wins.

Michelangelo finished his last frescoes in the Vatican at age 75.

At age 68, Lillian Carter, mother of former President Jimmy Carter, joined the Peace Corps and served for two years in India.

Benjamin Franklin invented bifocal glasses when he was 78, to help correct his own poor vision.

When she was 71, Coco Chanel introduced the Chanel suit.

Robert Penn Warren became the first official poet laureate of the United States at age 80.

At age 89, Mary Fasano became the oldest person to earn a degree from Harvard University.

At 95, dancer and choreographer Martha Graham premiered her work Maple Leaf Rag.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How long can you expect to live?

This chart shows how many more years, on average, a person can expect to live, based on current age, sex and race. Of course, these are just general estimates. If you smoke or drive without a seat belt, you lower your odds. If you have a healthy lifestyle, you might beat the odds.

Average number of years remaining

Source: National Vital Statistics Reports, 2011

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Life expectancy also varies according to where you live. Americans aren’t the longest-lived people in the world. That distinction belongs to the Japanese, who live on average to almost age 83.

Other factors affect life expectancy, too. Women live longer than do men. In the United States, white individuals tend to outlive black individuals. For a white woman, life expectancy in 2007 was 80.8 years. For a black man, it was 70.0.

Genes and long life

Many people assume that longevity depends to a great extent on inheriting good genes. No matter how much or little they exercise or how healthy or unhealthy their diet is, they figure their health in later years will be determined by genes. That’s a myth.

Genes play only a minor role in longevity. Your gene pool is responsible for about one-third of the aging process. The other effects of aging can be traced to your lifestyle and environment. Environment can be anything from diet and exercise to your job and social relationships.

Genes may cause premature death from conditions such as Huntington’s disease and cystic fibrosis. But once you’ve survived into later life, your own behavior plays a much more important role in future longevity.

If your father and grandfather both died young of a heart attack, you may be inclined to believe the same fate awaits you. But while you may have a genetic tendency for heart disease, factors such as diet, exercise, blood pressure, stress and tobacco use play significant roles in whether you actually develop a heart condition. You can outfox some of your genes.

What’s a better life?

Living well means more than just living longer. Longevity doesn’t mean much if you’re lonely, bored, depressed or in poor health. There’s a difference between more years alive and more life. Some people live to a very old age but are miserable and bitter. Others find a sense of purpose and zest for life even though they have a chronic illness or disability.

The top concern people express as they enter their later years isn’t money worries or physical problems, but a sense of meaning and purpose in life. For many people, a fulfilling life — or a better life — is one in which they feel they’ve made a contribution, no matter how small or big that may be. Yes, optimal aging includes good health, but it also encompasses love, companionship, creativity, productivity, concern for others, learning and a hopeful outlook.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Simple recipe for a good life

If you’re the type that likes things short and sweet, here’s one definition of a good life you may appreciate. A good life is having:

Someone to love. People generally are healthier and happier when they have someone or something to love or care for, whether that’s a spouse, children, grandchildren or a pet. Spending time with family and friends helps ward off depression and reinforces healthy behaviors.

Something to do. When you’re actively engaged in the world, you feel challenged and productive, which is key to satisfaction. Being involved — seeking opportunities to learn, build and love — gives you a sense of purpose and identity.

Something to look forward to. For many people, later life is a time to explore new ventures, give back to others in the community, or share wisdom with family and friends. People like to know that they’ve challenged themselves or that they’ve made a difference — and to see the outcomes of their efforts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How to live to your full potential

Good health and well-being don’t happen by accident. They depend on the decisions you make and the habits you adopt. To fully enjoy the years ahead of you, you need to take steps to safeguard your health.

The American Cancer Society predicts that more than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented if Americans just took better care of themselves — stopped smoking, exercised more, ate healthier and got recommended screening tests. And studies show that regardless of whether you’re 50 or 70, exercising every day or nearly every day can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and other health problems.

It’s also important to remember that you’re more than just your body. Good health means staying strong emotionally and mentally — having an optimistic attitude and maintaining connections with friends, family and community.

Not all diseases and conditions are avoidable. However, many of the most serious ones can be prevented by adopting habits and behaviors that promote good health. This book discusses key factors to not only good health, but also an enjoyable and meaningful life. They include:

Having a purpose in life

Enjoying a healthy diet

Keeping physically active

Maintaining a healthy weight

Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol

Preparing for retirement

Challenging your brain

Keeping socially and spiritually connected

Cultivating a positive attitude

Seeing your doctor regularly

By following these steps you’ll feel good about yourself — and as a result, come across as young — no matter what your age.

This doesn’t mean you have to focus on your health to the exclusion of all other things. Good health is simply about keeping your life balanced and making sure that the choices you make now will benefit you in the years to come.

And, remember, it’s never too late to clean up your act. For instance, if you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease begins to fall almost immediately. And after five years have passed, your risk of a stroke is about the same as it is for someone who never smoked at all.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A tale of two couples

Following are the stories of two couples and how their actions — or their inactions — have affected their retirement. Both couples had goals for their later years — visions of how they wanted to spend their retirement days.

One couple has been able to fully enjoy their time together. For the other couple, retirement hasn’t gone quite as they had hoped.

Are you on the right path to getting the most out of your best years?

Dealing with the hand they dealt

Mary and John seemingly had everything. In their middle 40s, they had a profitable business, their children were doing well in school, and any concerns about health and wellness were simply in the far-distant future. They felt no need to exercise, no need to watch what they ate, no need to ratchet down their stress level. They had the world by the tail. Then the world started to come crashing down.

In his late 40s, John awoke on a Monday morning with crushing chest pain like an elephant was standing on his chest. John was rushed to the hospital and underwent a dye test showing severe blockage of multiple coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. John underwent a quadruple vessel bypass, had a stormy recovery, but did recover. John was told that if he didn’t exercise, change his diet and decrease his frantic lifestyle, he would be facing big trouble. Like many individuals, John thought he was bulletproof and made virtually no changes to his daily routine.

In her late 40s, Mary also was told that the quality and quantity of her life would be severely compromised unless she watched her weight, quit smoking and let go of some of her many civic and community responsibilities. Despite some emerging medical problems, Mary kept going. She didn’t have time to worry about her health.

The realization of their actions — or inactions — came just a few years ago. A once in a lifetime opportunity arose when they received an invitation to tour some of the major capitals of Europe, an award John had won for his years of leadership. They were in a group of approximately 18 to 20 fellow travelers. The trip was not particularly arduous, but by midday John and Mary clearly ran out of steam. Because of their weight, each developed back pain, hip pain and severe knee pain. Both were taking handfuls of pain medications, which in turn caused stomach upset and required the use of additional medications. They simply couldn’t keep up with their fellow travelers, some who were 10 to 15 years older.

John and Mary are now nearing 60 and still headed down the same path, knowing they’re on an unhealthy course. The two had looked forward to spending time with their grandchildren. However, neither has the energy nor the vitality to go to the park, the zoo or the circus.

The ultimate tragedy is that John and Mary’s present circumstances were clearly predictable, avoidable and modifiable. By making a few changes in their lives, these golden years could have been wonderful.

Is it too late for John and Mary to set out in a new direction? Absolutely not.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Looking forward to each tomorrow

Ken sums up the sweetness of his retirement years by quoting author Tom Robbins: It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

Now 74, Ken retired 15 years ago after working steadily since age 12, when he got his first part-time job. Growing up, he was expected to contribute to the family income. He didn’t have much time to just kick back and be a kid. So when he retired, Ken reacquainted himself with some of life’s simpler pleasures.

At first, while my wife, AJ, was still working, retirement meant I could read all day if I chose, and sometimes I did, Ken says. I also bought a basketball, and I remember shooting a lot of baskets on my own that first year after I retired. I rode bicycle a lot, too. I played video games. I watched movies. I think I was enjoying some of the childhood I had missed.

The following year, AJ retired, at age 58. They were both in good health and were financially secure. We had no outstanding debts, our house and car were paid for and our three children were ‘launched,’ Ken says. We lived sensibly and had been saving money for years. Starting with this solid foundation, the couple created a satisfying new life for themselves.

Ken and AJ hadn’t necessarily planned to retire early, but both had experiences that spurred them into action. Ken’s wake-up call came with the death of a good friend. John was just a little older than me, and our interests were very similar, Ken explains. "He had a heart attack in his late 50s, and not long after that he chose to take early retirement. He moved to the south coast of England and was really enjoying life when he got an aggressive cancer and died a few months later.

Looking back now, I know that John’s death affected me profoundly. My father had died of cancer at age 47. I began to dread being deprived of my ‘golden years.’ After his friend’s death, Ken made the decision to retire.

AJ had a similar aha moment. One of her colleagues, who retired at age 65, became ill and died suddenly. It made me realize that there were things I wanted to do before I died, so maybe I should take early retirement.

For AJ, one of the greatest rewards of retirement is being able to travel and do other things without the time constraints of a full-time job. The couple travels three or four times a year. Visits to their children and grandchildren take them to both coasts, and they visit England or other parts of Europe every year. The two find traveling broadening and educational. We read about the countries we plan to visit so we know what we want to do and see, says AJ.

AJ and Ken have also pursued a whole new bunch of interests and activities, as AJ puts it. She has taken college courses in French, music appreciation and piano. She and a friend regularly attend orchestra concerts. AJ has a long list of books to read, and every spring she can’t wait to start working in her flower garden.

Ken got his first computer after retiring. Having a keen interest in England, he found an online group of like-minded enthusiasts who share observations and travel tips. Ken is also learning about woodcarving and enjoys cooking.

Both Ken and AJ try to follow a healthy lifestyle. They walk at least 30 minutes a day most days and eat a healthy diet. Both volunteer at a nearby hospital, and they share a love for their two cats.

Ken and AJ have noticed some challenges with age. Ken used to be a marathoner, but injuries curtailed his running days. Staying physically active isn’t always easy.

AJ says she isn’t as strong as she used to be. I need to pace myself more than in the past. When we are having company, I start planning more ahead of time.

Still, both are thoroughly enjoying this stage of their lives. I feel at peace, Ken says.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What are your goals?

Most people fantasize about how they’ll spend their later years — working on their golf game, traveling, painting, reading all those books they never got around to, fixing up the house.

What are your dreams? What do you want to do each day? Remember, the possibilities are limitless. Jim, a former executive in the computer industry, turned his energy to curriculum development for a college. Rudy, who used to own a restaurant, now volunteers at an art museum, giving tours. Two sisters retired from their city jobs to run a small cafe in Wyoming. Bob and Joan are touring the country in a recreational vehicle, earning money along the way by working at state parks. It’s common to hear older adults say they’re busier now than when they were working. That’s good!

Take a few minutes now to think about the years ahead of you. What are your goals? Do you have a plan — or an idea — for how you want to spend these years? Identify some things that you’d like to achieve in different areas of your life. Your goals can be as simple as meeting friends for coffee a couple of times a week or as complex as opening a bed-and-breakfast or going back to school.

Why do this? Because goals give you something to strive for, a reason to live, something to look forward to. Whether they’re short-term or long-term, small or big, goals can make life happier and more meaningful. Let curiosity and passion be your guides. And aim for what’s most important to you. Your goals might be things you’ve always wanted to do but have never tried, or something that you’ve never even considered.

As you read through this book, keep your goals in mind.

Chapter 2

Planning ahead

Today’s baby boomers are redefining what it means to retire. They see retirement as a time to retool their lifestyles and revitalize their lives rather than sit back and watch the grass grow.

Retirement simply isn’t what it used to be. Americans who retire today at ages 65 to 67 still have one-quarter to one-third of their lives left to live after retirement. In contrast, when Social Security was launched in 1935, life expectancy was about age 63, so most people lived just a few years past retirement, if they made it that far.

With so many years to spend in this next phase of life, you need activities to fill your day and money to live on. That’s why the prospect of retirement is both exciting and scary for many people. Exciting because of the many opportunities it presents — to pursue interests, travel, start a new business or different type of career, spend time with family, learn, and explore. Scary in that along with freedom and new hobbies come worries. Will I have enough money to live comfortably? Where will the money come from? Will I be bored? Will I miss work and colleagues?

Retirement is a huge step and an important transition. Like any major life change, retirement can be stressful. It brings changes in your daily routine, income and financial status, family relationships and friendships, social roles, and identity. Some people handle the changes well and others don’t.

Having a plan can help you manage the stresses and anxiety of retirement and will give you a much better chance of enjoying this exciting stage of your life. This chapter provides suggestions for what you should be thinking about now — before you’re retired — to help make the transition a smooth one. If you’re already retired, we provide some tips on ways to enjoy this new phase of your life.

The importance of early planning

While it’s impossible to predict exactly how your retirement will go, a realistic plan for the future can increase your odds of achieving your goals and dreams. Research suggests that people who plan ahead end up with more resources when they’re ready to retire. When you establish your basic goals — including your retirement age, the lifestyle you want and the income you’ll need — then you can plot how to achieve them.

Even if you love your job and plan to keep working as long as possible, it’s still important to have a financial plan in case your work or health status changes. You’ll want to have enough money saved so that work is an option rather than a necessity.

But retirement planning involves more than putting away money. You also need to think about what you’ll do with your time when work and commuting no longer consume 40 to 60 hours a week. Planning ahead can ensure a retirement that’s emotionally and physically satisfying as well as financially secure.

Start sooner — not later

Many people put off planning for retirement. They may find the process daunting or downright scary. Or they think it’s fine to wait until a year or so before retiring to start thinking about what’s next. Others worry that investing for retirement is a dicey proposition, given the ups and downs in the stock market.

Retirement planning — both the financial and lifestyle aspects — should start early. Ideally, you should begin saving money early in your career and continue to do so steadily until you stop working. But no matter what your age, it’s never too late to start saving money or to save more. For every 10 years that you put off setting aside money for retirement, you’ll have to save three times as much to reach your nest egg goal.

It’s equally important to think about what you’re going to do during retirement well before you actually retire. Even people who have thoroughly charted the financial side of retirement often haven’t given the same thought to how they’ll spend their time during retirement or where they’ll live. As one retiree noted, Some people spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do planning their retirement.

Start the planning process when you’re in your late 40s and early 50s. If you wait until you’re on the verge of retiring, you may find that you can’t afford to do the things you want to. People who count on developing new interests or becoming

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