After years of being hale and hearty, it’s a shock when our body starts start seizing up and letting us down.

Adjustments to everyday life are needed – even more so as time goes by.

Making good decisions about your health goes hand in hand with the need to be sure those close to you are always in the picture. And the importance of building good relationships with your GP and other medical professionals responsible for your care.

Yet it can be tricky finding a balance between being proactive on health issues and avoiding entertaining your friends with a regular ‘an organ recital’.

  • Seven vital health checks

    1. Sight: Everyone 60+ qualifies for a free sight test every two years, whether or not new glasses are needed. This is because eye tests include a vital check on eye health and give the opportunity to act promptly on any age-related changes, and conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma.
    2. Bowel cancer: This is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. Screening – free every two years for those 60-74 – is provided by way of a poo-stick kit sent by post. Be sure you use it. If you are over 74, request a free kit from 0800 707 6060.
    3. Breast screening: The Heath Service offer this every three years up to 70. About one in eight women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime – with survival rates increasing considerably in recent years.
    4. Skin: Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. Keep an eye on any changes in moles and let your GP know early rather than assume ‘it’s nothing’.
    5. Cholesterol: High levels can build up fat in arteries and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Your GP ought to be giving you a blood test every year for this and more. Don’t let it slide.
    6. Blood pressure: High blood pressure can weaken the heart and walls of the arteries, putting you at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Have it checked at least once a year. If you are concerned, invest in your own blood pressure monitor – easy to use and well worth the modest and potentially lifesaving price.
    7. Feet: Life-restricting conditions like diabetes and circulatory problems can be picked up by looking at the feet. Common problems that reduce mobility – like corns, cracked skin and ingrown toenails – can be successfully treated by a chiropodist.
  • Mental health

    Feeling good about life and ourselves can be as important as having good physical health. And this needs to be of equal concern.

    There are some simple ways to boost your mood and help you feel more positive, no matter how tough life is feeling at the time.

    These include setting goals and making plans, taking time to do things you enjoy, keeping in social contact spending time with others, learning something new.

    Psychologist Susan Quilliam offers five top tips for having a sense of mental wellbeing. They are –

    1. Smile: ‘When you smile it triggers mood-boosting hormones in the brain. So even if you don’t feel happy, put a smile on your face and you may soon start to feel more positive.’
    2. Keep busy: ‘It doesn’t matter whether you tidy up the garden, wash the dishes or go for a walk – any activity that helps to break up your routine and gives you a sense of achievement will do the trick.’
    3. Talk to someone: ‘Meet up face to face, talk on the phone, chat online or use Skype; connecting with other people helps to bring you out of yourself.’
    4. Help others; ‘Research shows helping other people will help to lift your mood. So do a favour for a friend, donate to charity or volunteer.’
    5. Live in the moment; ‘If you’re feeling low, try to regulate your breathing and pay attention to what you can see, hear and feel at the present moment. This will help you to feel calm and bring you back into emotional balance.’

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife