There is no reason to think that just because a person becomes older, he or she must become resigned to chronic illness or a lifestyle revolving around doctors, hospitals and medications. It’s a basic truth that people who no longer work or who have changed careers under the easier circumstances of retirement have less work-related stress, more time to do mild exercise, the leisure to prepare healthful foods and many other advantages that can protect and enhance health. People in their thirties with high-powered jobs and children to put through school hardly have the time for a brisk 40-minute walk every day, a noon-time meditation session, or extensive reading about health and nutrition.
Nasty Habits. A great number of illnesses result from bad habits or outside forces that a person with a healthy attitude can eliminate or control. Stress is an obvious example. Cigarette smoking, for example, kills more Americans than alcohol, cocaine, “crack,” heroin, murder, suicide, auto accidents and AIDS combined. While widely accepted in many other countries, cigarette smoking is considered unhealthy and unpleasant in the United States. The government and private organizations sponsor major anti-smoking campaigns. An even greater killer is heart disease, which can often be controlled or eliminated through diet.
Healthy Life Style. The combination of frequent moderate exercise and a sensible diet is important on a lifelong basis, but more important for elderly people. A brisk 40-minute walk at least four times a week is sufficient exercise–just keep doing it consistently. Quitting smoking alone puts you into the statistically healthier half of the population. Alcohol use should be kept at a moderate level. Prescription and over-the-counter medications should be used carefully. Such a health oriented lifestyle is in keeping with long-term American trends toward health and fitness. For many, the American life is a health-oriented life. For many others, unfortunately, the American life is one spent sitting in front of a television, gaining more and more weight.
Next Section:Where to Retire
Retirement and Aging: Chapter Home
Life in the USA Home Page.