Seniors, people who provide care for seniors, and people who are looking ahead to their own senior years will want to add a few of these great ideas to their list of resolutions.
The New Year is the traditional time when many of us are motivated to make positive changes in our lives. Why not add a few resolutions that can impact your health and well-being through the New Year and beyond? During 2015, research institutions from around the world released new studies shedding light on factors that encourage optimum aging. Take advantage of this information as you make your list, and share these ideas with senior loved ones.
Resolution #1: Increase physical activity in your daily routine. Study after study demonstrates the vital role that exercise plays in keeping us well and independent as we grow older. No matter what a senior’s health status, there is some form of exercise almost everyone can do. Talk to your healthcare provider about an exercise program that is right for you.
Resolution #2: Read food labels. Look for “heart smart” foods that are rich in nutrients and fiber. Avoid foods with added sweeteners and trans fat. Look for foods labeled “low sodium” or “reduced sodium.” Talk to your doctor about a diet that is right for you.
Resolution #3: Give your brain a workout by learning a new skill. Did you know that today’s imaging technologies allow neurologists to observe the effects of mental stimulation in our brains? Experts tell us that activities that stimulate the brain in a new way are especially effective. Take a language class, try a new instrument, or improve your computer skills. It’s never too late to learn.
Resolution #4: Discover a great new walking path. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, but we can lose motivation and become bored with our same old routine. Check out local parks, neighborhoods, even shopping malls when the weather is bad. And invest in a pair of good quality walking shoes.
Resolution #5: Ask your doctor about the shingles vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people aged 60 years and older get this one-dose shot, which can help seniors avoid this often painful, sometimes debilitating condition. While you’re at it, ask your doctor to be sure your other immunizations are up to date.
Resolution #6: Plant a vegetable garden. What a nice way to get some exercise and add nutritious veggies to your menu! Spring isn’t far away, so start planning your garden. If you don’t have a yard or if kneeling to the ground is challenging for you, a container garden or pots of windowsill herbs can also yield a nutrient-rich “crop.” Or, check out local farmers markets for fresh, locally grown produce…and perhaps a flower bouquet for a mood boost?
Resolution #7: Watch a funny movie. Studies confirm that laughter is good for the heart and immune system, relieves depression, and is a great social “icebreaker.” Your public library probably has a good collection of comedy films that you can borrow at no cost—or check out the latest offerings on YouTube.
Resolution #8: Take a fall prevention tour of your home. Look for situations and conditions that could be hazardous as you move from place to place. Removing clutter and fixing unsafe conditions helps older adults avoid falls and live more confidently. Improve lighting indoors and out, and add grab bars and other modifications that make the home safer for everyone.
Resolution #9: Ask your doctor to review your medications. During your next appointment, arrange in advance to bring in a list of all drugs you take, both prescription and over-the-counter. (Some healthcare providers suggest bringing along the containers.) Ask about side effects, possible interactions, and whether switching to a generic might save you money.
Resolution #10: Spend more time with other people. This year, several more studies confirmed the damaging effects of loneliness, for both our bodies and our minds. Good relationships are one of the top ways to stay active and achieve emotional well-being. Companionship has even been shown to strengthen our immune system, and offers a host of other benefits.
No matter what your age and health condition, taking positive steps to follow healthy aging guidelines can pay off and help you have a happier 2016!