Health Focus: How your GP can help as you prepare for life in retirement

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant

"What if I lose my health and can't enjoy my retirement"

We all know that it’s important to see your GP for regular check-ups and I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of us out there who think ‘I’ll make that appointment next week’ and suddenly six months passes before you realise that you still haven’t visited your GP. As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure and in this week’s blog Sunshine Coast GP Dr Ruth Nash shares her insight and tips into healthcare and ageing, along with some great services which you may not know your GP offers (often for free!).

This week is also the third and final blog in the Focus Series on Health and Well-being. Prior to launching my business I interviewed a number of women approaching the age of retirement to find out what is important to them along with the challenges and fears they face in preparing for retirement. Not having good health to do the things they dream of was one of the main themes that arose. In response to this I spoke with three inspiring women to provide expert advice and insights as guests of the blog. In addition to Dr Ruth Nash, I have interviewed personal trainer Gemma Cuskelly (read more here) and yoga instructor Marita Nicholson (read more here).

I recently met with Ruth and I’m excited to share her advice for women preparing for retirement as it relates to looking after their health and their body.

From your experience, what do women approaching the age of retirement typically need to be mindful of with regard to their health?

There are a number of things that we all need to be mindful of and here are some of the key ones:

  • The time when women are starting to think seriously about retirement often coincides with the onset of menopause when our bodies go through a number of changes. A lack of oestrogen can contribute to osteoporosis and so it is important to maintain good musculoskeletal strength now in order to prevent fractures later in life when they can be really debilitating
  • There are a number of social changes which can occur as we step into retirement and impact our sense of wellbeing. Examples include becoming empty nesters, changed relationship dynamics as we spend more time with our significant other, and a decreasing circle of friends. Staying connected with others can require some planning (and bravery in taking up new activities!) when we no longer have work to binds us to others
  • The risk of developing some diseases, such as diabetes, increases as we become older. Such diseases can be influenced by a number of factors including family history and being overweight

What key piece of advice would you offer to women to help ensure a fulfilling and meaningful retirement?

Stop smoking. You can take all of the pills in the world to help manage symptoms, but this is the single best thing you can do for your health. It’s never too late to stop smoking and your body will start to see benefits straight away. Talk to your GP about beginning a smoking cessation program – you don’t have to do it alone.

What is one great health and well-being resource that you can share with readers?

There are many!

Top tips from a GP for women preparing for retirement include having an annual flu jab
  1. Do regular exercise. Along with stopping smoking, this one thing that is known to make a big difference. Just 30 minutes of walking each day has a positive impact on your body and your your mind. Living in Australia, make the most of the natural environment around you, e.g. get out there and give bush-walking, beach walking or even stand-up paddling boarding a go!
  2. Free health checks - take advantage of this service offer by your GP for Medicare eligible patients from 40 years onwards
  3. Annual flu jab. For those aged over 65 (and younger for Indigenous persons) it’s free, but for everyone else it is $20 - a small price to pay for avoiding the flu
  4. Regular skin check. For many approaching the age of retirement, they may not have regularly ‘slipped slopped and slapped’ when they were younger and so it’s particularly important that any changes are picked up early
  5. Mammograms. Free mammograms are available every two years for all women aged over 40 years. Visit the breastscreen service in your state (e.g Breastscreen Queensland) to locate your closest centre or to find out when a mobile service will next be visiting your area.
  6. Travel vaccinations. If you are planning to travel overseas, avoid the risk of becoming sick in another country (where the health system may not be as good) or the expense of being emergency evacuated home (worst case scenario). Have the recommended vaccinations to help ensure it truly is the trip of a lifetime!

Did you know?

If traveling is a part of your retirement plans, good preparation will help ensure it truly is the trip of a lifetime.

If you are planning to travel around Australia, or overseas for that matter, you can request a summary letter from your GP which you can take with you and present should you have to visit a GP or hospital during your travels. This letter will include your health and medication history to help ensure you receive timely and effective care, thus minimising any delays or inconveniences to your travels.


Ultimately, if you have a worry see your GP - ideally someone you trust and feel comfortable talking with. Even if your worry turns out to be nothing, you will at least have peace of mind.

Would you like to explore more regarding Health & Well-Being? Check out my interview with Marita Nicholson, Tullamore yoga instructor ‘Health Focus: Why Yoga is for Everyone – Especially Those Approaching Retirement’  as she shares not only her insights into the benefits of practicing yoga, but her experience going from complete novice to qualified yoga instructor later in life, along with my interview with personal trainer Gemma Cuskelly in ‘Focus on Health & Well-Being in Retirement – Top Tips from Personal Trainer Gemma Cuskelly’.

To better understand how prepared you are for retirement, why not download the Retirement Planning Questionnaire?

It's more than just a quiz, it's an action-focused tool that will help you take action today (not wait until the day you retire!) to create a retirement that you will love to live!

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