Is your retirement just around the corner? Have you got your finances in place, the mortgage paid off, bucket list made and plans for the next stage of life waiting to go?
It's an exciting next step and one you have been looking forward to for several years. You’ve worked hard for it; you don’t want poor or failing health holding you back.
So is your health retirement ready?
If you are getting close to retirement age, you may have already noticed some changes, perhaps injuries don’t heal as quickly, sleep isn’t easy to come by, your tummy just isn’t able to handle certain foods anymore or your joints are feeling achy and stiff.
What you don’t want are these or any other health conditions stopping you from enjoying every minute of your retirement years or any of the things you had planned to enjoy.
There is no time like the present to get your health retirement ready!
First, what does a retirement ready health picture look like? Check out this list. Circle any points that aren’t true for you.
1. I get 7 to 8 hours of sound, restful sleep a night
2. I have 1-3 bowel movements a day
3. I get maybe one cold or bout of flu a year and it is gone within a week
4. I don’t have any rashes or episodes with hives
5. My stomach doesn’t get upset for no apparent reason
6. I have no problem with heartburn
7. My body digests food properly
8. My hair and nails are healthy with no ridges, marks or brittleness
9. I can keep going for most of the day with only a couple of quick breaks
10. I don’t need to have a nap in the afternoon
11. I don’t get fatigued
12. I have a normal libido and enjoy sex with a loving partner
13. I don’t have any joint pain
14. My heart health is great with biomarkers showing good cholesterol numbers, healthy blood pressure and good arterial health
15. My liver and kidneys are healthy
16. My blood sugar is at a healthy level
17. I have a high tolerance for exercise
18. I don’t get yeast infections
19. I don’t get bladder infections
20. My hands and feet don’t get cold, they stay an even temperature
21. I wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to go
22. I can think clearly
23. I don’t feel confused or cloudy during the day
24. My teeth are healthy and are kept in good shape
25. I don’t have issues with bad breath
26. I can roll over in bed or get up from sitting without stiffness or pain
27. I have no problems with muscle weakness or pain
28. I have no challenges with depression or anxiety
29. I am at a healthy weight for me
30. I have no allergies or autoimmune conditions
How many statements did you circle? Did you realize, as you read through the list, that some of the points you hadn’t considered because you’ve gotten used to feeling a certain way? Or never even considered them a problem or important in the past?
"At VitaCare we believe healthy aging is all about vitality, creativity, growth, empowerment and exploration. A vital retirement lifestyle is one where you have the energy and desire to learn, move and discover new things about yourself and the world. And it means contributing in some way through service to others without detracting energy from your other activities."
Healthy aging is being proactive about your health and getting and being prepared for a healthy and vital retirement.
Let’s dig in and find out the nitty gritty of how you can get retirement ready? This is what Dr. YIm’s Seven Step Healthy Aging program looks like:
1. Complete Health Picture
In your initial Healthy Aging program visit Dr. Yim will take a complete case history after which he will order blood and lab tests appropriate for your age and current health status. These may include testing for:
· C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation)
· Kidney function and liver enzymes
· Blood sugar
· Salivary hormone levels (testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and cortisol)
· Bioimpedence (body fat percentage, lean body mass, metabolic rate)
· Blood pressure
· Vega testing for food sensitivities and organ function
· Hair mineral analysis
· Urine toxic metal test
Dr. Yim may also prescribe specific nutrients to begin the process of building your body up to its optimal level of health. Nutrient protocols may change once test results are available.
After your test results are sent to the clinic, Dr. Yim will go over them with you explaining what each result means to you and your treatment plan.
3. Treatment Plan
He will then design a protocol that strengthens the weak areas in the body and work on any problems that show up on the various tests. This might include optimizing digestion and absorption of nutrients, stabilizing cholesterol or blood sugar, balancing the immune system to fight germs and decrease symptoms of allergies, improving bone strength, managing inflammation, and so on.
Therapies used will be in the form of nutrients, herbal products, injection or intravenous immune or performance enhancing therapies such as vitamin B12 shots, and most importantly nutrition.
After testing, allergic or sensitive foods are removed from the diet to take a load off the gut and immune system. For many people, undiscovered food sensitivities or allergies can be contributors to their health challenges.
An anti-candida diet might to be followed for a period time if elevated levels of yeast in the gut are detected.
For maintenance, Dr. Yim always suggests eating an anti-inflammatory diet because inflammation is the common denominator in every chronic degenerative disease that we are all susceptible to as we get older.
The proportions and types of protein, fats and carbohydrates may vary from person to person depending on activity level, metabolic rate, health conditions, biochemical individuality and even philosophical beliefs (eg. Some people want to eat raw, Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, etc,).
The term movement is used here because some folks have an aversion to exercise. The body, from the muscles, joints, and connective tissues was designed for movement. At VitaCare Natural Health Clinic, we believe that the only Fountain of Youth is movement and lots of it. Every system of the body benefits from regular movement.
This can take the form of walking, hiking, gardening, dancing, swimming, bicycling, pickle ball, tennis, badminton, yoga, tai chi, qigong, weight lifting, stretching, Pilates, Zumba, and so on. Hopefully you are getting the idea that there are many options.
The key is that each week you should be doing activities that build strength, flexibility, balance, stamina, and aerobic capacity (must get the heart rate up for at least 15 to 30 minutes). Dr. Yim helps to design the proper amounts and types of activities to maximize health and wellness.
6. Proper rest and stress management
Seven to eight hours of sleep a night should be a goal we all strive towards. Lack of sleep is a contributor to many health conditions such as elevated blood sugar, obesity, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and weak immunity just to name a few. Poor sleep is something that should not be taken lightly since it can have such a profound affect on health.
As people approach retirement, some are fortunate enough to report their stress level is significantly lower. Others continue to have high levels of stress from family, stress around aging parents, children or grandchildren who are struggling with their challenges, financial stress from poor investments or failure to plan properly for retirement, or health challenges.
Stress does not cause every health problem, but can aggravate or worsen any weakness or susceptibility from heart disease to autoimmunity.
Since it is impossible to get rid of all the stress in your life, it is vital to have techniques to decrease the negative effects of stress. Dr. Yim might suggest breathing techniques, meditation, visualization, counseling, yoga, tai chi or other stress-relieving techniques.
Toxicity is one of the greatest threats to our health and well-being. A build up of toxins can contribute to everything from fatigue, mental and mood disorders, allergies/autoimmunity, weak immune function, cancer, neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, dementia or Alzheimer’s, thyroid problems, and many other conditions.
Toxins can come from the metabolism of foods, chemicals in our foods, cleaning products used in our homes, heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, to name a few, plastics, prescription or over-the-counter medicines, alcohol, air pollution and even body care products.
A vital part of healthy aging includes flushing the system regularly of toxins. Dr. Yim prescribes a gentle cleanse that includes dry brushing, sauna, detox baths, special chelating agents, herbal teas and special products that flush toxins from the cells of the body.
As we approach retirement it is important not to take our health for granted. You did not get financially prepared for retirement through chance alone, a lot of thought and effort went into your retirement planning. So don’t leave your health to chance either.
Your quality of life and the enjoyment of your retirement years can be positively influenced by the choices you make today. Choose to take a proactive approach and work with a naturopathic physician to get your health retirement ready.