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We know that amazing things can happen when we take time to focus on all aspects of our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing – regardless of age. However, this becomes even more important when it comes to understanding how to age well.

Research by Age UK found that finding enjoyable and meaningful activities was the biggest direct factor for wellbeing in later life – providing a clear link between how we choose to spend our time and how good we feel inside and out. The charity’s index also cites physical activity and positive social interactions as key influences for senior wellbeing.

With this in mind, what can you do to keep living healthily and happily throughout your retirement? Here are our top tips to age well and live well

1. Eat well

A cornerstone of ageing well involves nurturing your body with the right foods. A balanced diet rich in nutrients not only supports physical health but also contributes to mental and emotional well-being.

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes helps support a healthy, balanced body, from reducing the risk of chronic diseases to improving energy levels and mental clarity.

Try to be mindful of your red meat intake too - the NHS recommends 70g or less per day. And reduce your sugar intake where you can - excessive sugar consumption is linked to health issues including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

As a rule of thumb, try to focus on whole foods and avoid processed foods high in added sugars.

2. Stay fit

Fitness is key to ageing well. There’s strong evidence that staying active as you age lowers your risk of developing a range of physical and mental conditions. For example, studies show that regular physical activity can reduce dementia risk by 28%. Beyond that, keeping fit also gives you more energy, a sense of achievement and a mood boost.

The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week – ideally doing something every day. Whether it’s fast walking, cycling, tennis or even boules, there are plenty of ways to put exercise on the agenda. Across our Retirement communities, health and wellbeing is key and we offer a range of activities to get involved in. Depending on where you are, you might find Zumba, swimming, yoga and aerobics on the schedule – our health-boosting tai chi classes at Gradwell Park are proving especially popular.

3. Keep exploring

Allowing your sense of adventure to thrive is a great way to stay active physically and mentally. From a walk to a hike or meeting friends for a stroll, getting out in the fresh air on a regular basis carries a whole host of benefits – from improving your mood to boosting your immune system.

Our retirement villages are designed with outdoor spaces, from extensive grounds and allotments on site, to stunning natural countryside right on your doorstep. And with regular opportunities to hop on public transport or the village mini bus to get out to local towns, shops, scenery and cultural attractions, retirement living at one of our 16 retirement communities comes with no shortage of ways to exercise your inner explorer.

We like to get involved. If you can remain active mentally and physically it all helps …that’s what we try and do. – James and Barbara, Debden Grange

4. Drink alcohol moderately

While enjoying a glass of wine or beer can be part of a balanced lifestyle, moderation is key. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to health problems, including decreased liver function, increased risk of chronic diseases and cognitive decline.

The UK Government advises a maximum of 14 units weekly for all people, and if you’re regularly drinking 14 or more units, try having a few alcohol-free nights per week.

5. Get creative

Keeping your creative juices flowing on a regular basis can boost happiness, improve your immune system and even reduce the risk of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and stress. It’s thought that engaging in creative activities you love will release endorphins which are known to improve mood, reduce stress, support the immune system and even reduce blood pressure.

Creativity is also a fantastic way to socialise, meet new people and have a laugh with likeminded people – all key aspects of maintaining your mental wellbeing.

Here at Retirement Villages, there’s always something going on to keep your creativity alive – whether that’s a creative writing group, a choir, a knitting group or a drawing class.

There are a range of activity groups across all of our locations – but the best part is that if you don’t see one you’d like to join, you can always set it up yourself.

I looked at my diary two months ago, and in the 31 days in the month we only had five days completely free. Every single day except five had something on it! – James and Barbara, Debden Grange

6. Spend Time Outdoors

The benefits of spending time in nature  are great, including improved mood, increased physical activity, and enhanced mental well-being.

Gardening in retirement is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors - it’s not only a rewarding hobby but also a fantastic way to stay physically active and mentally engaged. It encourages mindfulness and can be incredibly therapeutic. The act of nurturing plants and watching them grow can bring a deep sense of satisfaction and connection to nature. Plus, if you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you'll have the added benefit of fresh, organic produce right at your doorstep.

Gardening is a favourite hobby across our communities and, when our green-fingered allotment groups get a good harvest, they even supply our onsite kitchens.

Whether it’s gardening, walking in the park, or simply enjoying a cup of tea in your garden, make a point to connect with the outdoors regularly.

7. Maintain Purpose

Japan’s Okinawa island is one of the planet’s five Blue Zones, that is, an global region where people live longer than average - it has one of the densest populations of centenarians anywhere in the world.

A lot of research has gone into understanding why these Blue Zones boast such longevity. And, for Okinawa, one of the theories is Ikigai, the Japanese concept of ‘a reason for being’ - it translates to iki - ‘alive’ and gai - ‘worth’. 

Ikigai emphasises the importance of having a purpose in life. Studies have found that those who live with purpose live longer and age better, from reduced risk of dementia and functional disability, to increased happiness and lower rates of depression.

To age well, seek ikigai - engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfilment, whether it’s volunteering, pursuing hobbies, or spending time with family. Finding your ikigai can lead to a happier, more satisfying retirement.

8. Stay connected

Community plays a pivotal role in ageing well - it has a profound impact on mental and emotional health that can consequently improve our physical wellbeing. Engaging with a community provides essential social connections that foster a sense of belonging and purpose and staying connected to a social circle has been shown to improve longevity and lifespan.

Building and maintaining social connections can help combat loneliness and keep you mentally sharp. Engage with your community through local clubs, social groups, or by attending community events. Staying active in your community not only enriches your social life but also keeps you connected to diverse perspectives and experiences.

All of our retirement villages have guest suites available for family and friends to visit, and with plenty of social activities happening every week, and cafes and restaurants on site, making friends has never been easier.

From movie nights to summer barbecues, quizzes to coffee mornings, our communities are full of moments to cherish great company and make connections with those around you. Research suggests being close with friends and family and participating in meaningful social activities may help people maintain their thinking skills better in later life – and that’s exactly why we place such a focus on helping our residents fill their days with friendship, fun and freedom.

Why not come and see for yourself at one of our ever popular open days? They are relaxed informative visits where you can bring family or friends, and your furry friends too.

Everybody is friendly and there is always someone to have coffee with and have a chat to. We have a social evening once a week. – Bobby, Debden Grange

9. Embrace lifelong learning

Never underestimate the power of learning something new. Lifelong learning keeps the brain engaged and has been linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline. Consider learning a new skill, enrolling in educational courses, attending lectures or learning a new language.

Many universities and educational platforms welcome mature students and offer flexible entry requirements that take work and life experience into consideration.

10. Prioritise sleep

Quality sleep is fundamental at any age, but it becomes even more important as we get older. Consistently good sleep supports your mental wellness, cognitive function, and overall health.

Develop a regular sleep schedule, create a restful environment and adopt a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid screens before bedtime and consider gentle practices like yoga or meditation to improve sleep quality.

Ageing well is key to a fulfilling, enriched, and vibrant retirement. And adopting a healthier lifestyle should never feel regimented or forced - it’s about finding balance, embracing new experiences and maintaining a positive outlook on life.

Life in a Retirement Villages community means plenty of opportunity to concentrate on your wellbeing. Wellbeing to us, means supporting our residents to live their life to the fullest, to continue to do the things they love whilst introducing new experiences whilst keeping body and mind active. Ageing should never get in the way of this.

Find out more about what a retirement village is and the benefits of moving into a retirement community to understand how they can help you age well.

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