I found that our 20s are a time for travel, friends, independence and figuring out what you want to achieve in your life. It’s also a time for hard work, perseverance and establishing a career. Our 30s are still a time for big dreams, risks and career, but also a time to enjoy life a little more – that means spending time with friends and family and indulging in hobbies like music and photography. Our 40s are a time of confidence – you get to make a fool of yourself in public, deal with past demons at therapy, face mortality and write a will, and do any of the stuff you forgot to do in your 20s and 30s like travel or fall in love. In all three of these decades we need to be saving for our future and taking care of our health. If you don’t use it you will lose it.
And now it’s time for our 50s. What do we need to accomplish in this decade? Well, we’ve had three decades to focus on career, lovers, travel, friends and family. I think in your 50s you are allowed to have ‘me’ time, but getting it is not that easy!
I hate to break this to you, but all the research shows that life satisfaction dips in our 50s. Often it is because many people have aged sick parents (in their 80s) and demanding teenagers. In your 50s you may find you are the sandwich generation. You are doing everything for everyone. That is why it is so important to look after yourself in your 50s. If you have children, they will soon be growing up and leaving you, so make sure you are planning for a future with less responsibilities.
I have visited quite a few websites for tips on what to accomplish in your 50s. I hope you enjoy these ideas.
1. Get involved with a not-for-profit group
By the time you hit 50, you have learnt that life is not always fair – that some people are short-changed and disadvantaged and that’s why it’s so important to get out there in your 50s and do something to make the world a better place. It is easy to get bitter and dispirited by the time you reach your 50s, but if you are doing something to make the world a better place you will feel better.
Alternatively if you have a good job and nice house, you might forget that other people are vulnerable and poor – get out among them! Work at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or just run the BBQ at the Saturday morning football matches in your suburb. In your 50s you are a tribal elder and it’s now time to give back to the community!
2. Forgive everyone who has ever hurt you
By the time you are 50 you will have hurts and grievances – now is the time to dump them all! Leave all your emotional baggage behind. Pick someone from your past who you feel deserves to be forgiven for a previous wrong. Or, better still, pick someone who doesn’t deserve it and forgive them. Even if it means nothing to them, it will make you feel lighter.
3. Be alone
Being alone isn’t as easy as it sounds. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. The best way to learn how to be happy alone is to just do it. Silence all the noise, find a place for private time, and enjoy the music of your own thoughts. This will make you a stronger person.
4. Write a love letter to your family
I hate to say it, but life can change at any moment. We are all mortal. Take the opportunity to tell those close to you how much you adore them. It is too easy to get caught up with the rush of life and not appreciate all the love and beauty there is in our life. Make sure your nearest and dearest know what they mean to you.
5. Get an adrenaline rush
It is easier to just sleep through life and shuffle through our daily routine. You need to exercise regularly in your 50s – both weight resistant and aerobic exercise – but you also need the occasional adrenaline rush. What about skydiving or bungee jumping? Nothing makes you so aware of being alive like a ‘sensible’ brush with death. But if jumping out of a plane feels too scary, you can always try indoor skydiving, bungee jumping, a giant swing, or just a tall roller coaster.
6. Update your look
When was the last time you sorted out your wardrobe? If you wear old clothes, you will look old! As you age you need to wear brighter colours because your skin does become sallow. You need to be well groomed. In your 20s, you probably looked good in anything, in your 50s you need to invest in your appearance.
7. Stay on top of your health checks
When was the last time you had a thorough check-up at your GP? Middle-aged people need regular health checks. Everyone from 45 to 60 years needs to stay on top of these. Your doctor needs to do:
- Colon cancer screening, recommended for everyone at age 50. Ask your doctor which screening test is best for you.
- Weight checks. This is the age when most people start gaining weight. Watch this weight gain carefully, and fight back with healthier eating and exercise. Being overweight puts you at risk of developing a number of diseases, including cancer.
- Blood pressure: High blood pressure impacts on your heart, brain, eyes, and kidneys. Get it tested.
- Cholesterol: Test this at least every 4-6 years (or more frequently if you're at risk of a heart attack).
- Blood sugar. Diabetes causes heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. Ask your GP to test you.
- For women – Pelvic exam and pap smears and mammograms: don’t be shy, talk to your GP about this.
- Skin checks: A GP should check your skin for any unusual spots or moles. Be sure to ask your doctor to check your skin once a year.
- Eyes: Eye diseases become more common as you age. Be sure to get your eyes tested regularly — at least every 1 to 2 years until age 60 and then every year thereafter.
- Checking your immunizations. People over age 50 should get a flu shot every year. And don't forget, even healthy people need a tetanus booster shot every 10 years. Also ask about whooping cough!
Use your birthday as a reminder to schedule a visit to your dentist, and call your doctor to see if there are important tests you need.
In my next blog I will cover what we need to get done in our 60s.
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