You’ve learned a lot in the passing decades, so put that knowledge to good use for yourself and others. Here are three steps that really can improve the second half of your lifetime. Let’s look at the one with the most far-reaching potential first.
Mental and Physical Well Being
Without good health, it’s hard to enjoy anything else life offers. You’ve probably heard that Medicare now covers an assortment of screenings to see how you’re doing. These services have been found to maintain health based on the experience of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. That’s an independent group of national experts on prevention and evidence-based medicine. These 16 volunteers are from preventive medicine and primary care.
Most of these services they’ve recommended are available at no cost from doctors who accept Medicare’s payment rates. For certain ones, you may have to pay for 20-percent of Medicare’s pre-determined doctor fee, but the remainder will be covered. There are also some preventive services that are only covered after you’ve met the Part B deductible. That’s $147 in 2013.
John Cacioppo works as a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago. He’s also coauthored Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. Cacioppo says being isolated socially is similar to high blood pressure, obesity or smoking in terms of what it does to your health.
And, you have more control over loneliness than you may think because it isn’t necessarily a result of being alone. You can be around a lot of people and still feel isolated. It’s what you perceive that impacts your health.
Making a connection doesn’t have to be a big production. If you smile at someone, they’re likely to smile back and your brain will actually release dopamine to make you feel good.
This surprisingly simple step has been linked to better health and sleep, an absense of anxiety and depression, kinder behavior and less agression when provoked. I say simple because if you’re reading this, you probably have several things to be grateful for that you might have taken for granted. No, not everyone can read or can see or has Internet access, but you do.
Edward Diener, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, has studied people from various cultures. Diener says you don’t need a lot to feel gratitude. If you pay attention to the good things in your life, it’s easy to appreciate common things like the songs of birds or wind in the trees.
Diener found people living in poverty report low levels of satisfaction, but so do a high percentage of affluent people. He notes that people in Ireland, a “count your blessings” culture, express high levels of life satisfaction. And, multimillionaires weren’t much happier than average suburbanites.
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.