Welcome to 2020! It’s the start of a new decade and, no matter your age, there’s no better time to get started on your wellness goals. Discover the top 10 healthy New Year’s resolutions you can try today, specially constructed for seniors and their unique needs.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Even as an older adult, you should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. This amount of rest helps to maintain your immune system and improves memory and concentration.
Many seniors have difficulty falling or staying asleep. To combat insomnia, follow these simple suggestions:
- Avoid using your television, cell phone, and/or computer in your bedroom.
- Don’t drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages in the evening.
- Keep your bedroom cool, comfortable, and quiet.
- Stick to a schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, and avoid long naps.
- Stay active during the day. Tire yourself out!
- Check with your physician to see if any of your medications or medical conditions affect sleep.
2. Eat Well & Stay Hydrated
A healthy diet is one of the simplest health goals for seniors. Focus on consuming high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with nuts and low-fat dairy and leaner cuts of meat. Limit your consumption of fatty meat, sugar, butter, salt, and pre-packaged foods. Following these guidelines can help protect against cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, as well as common illnesses caused by viruses and bacteria.
Healthy foods are great, but don’t forget to stay hydrated. Keep a container of water near you and take frequent sips throughout the day. Make sure to refill often!
3. Stay Social
The importance of social interaction for older adults cannot be overstated. Loneliness is known as a “silent killer” of seniors. Stay connected with family members and reach out to your friends – it’s never too late to make new ones!
4. Use Your Brain
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “use it or lose it.” This colloquialism is especially pertinent to your gray matter as you age. Experts suggest seniors keep their wits sharp with mind-bending puzzles like crossword and sudoku. There are also plenty of activities like, reading, writing and trying a new hobby that can help you ward off a decline in mental health.
Staying physically active is one of the best health goals for seniors in the new year. Studies have shown that regular exercise has many benefits for seniors, including:
- Weight management
- Alleviation of depression
- Strong bones and muscles
- Better sleep
- Improved balance and fall prevention
- Decreased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Low-impact activities like biking, walking, tai chi, water aerobics, and yoga are popular exercise options for many older adults.
6. Practice Prevention
It is easier to prevent illness than to treat it. That’s why a key new year’s resolution for seniors focuses on preventative health measures. Here a few ideas to get you started:
- Schedule your annual physical and screenings to detect and monitor chronic conditions and/or cancer.
- Get vaccinated against the flu and other common viruses.
- Connect with your doctor to discuss any health concerns when they occur; don’t put it off.
- Actively manage your medications. Consult with your pharmacist or physician if you believe you are experiencing side effects.
- Wash your hands frequently.
7. Kick Your Bad Habits
One of the most popular new year’s resolutions for seniors involves quitting smoking and/or drinking. These habits have some serious health issues attached to them. Smoking is directly related to cancer, high blood pressure and can even worsen conditions like osteoporosis. Drinking has plenty of long-term health risks, but it also increases your risk of a fall.
It’s never too late to quit smoking and/or reducing your alcohol intake. There are many tobacco and alcohol addiction support programs available to help you – talk to your doctor to get connected with one. It can also be helpful to loop in your friends and family to create a support system.
8. Maintain Your Purpose in Life as You Age
All the health goals for seniors aren’t just related to physical health, it’s been proven that optimists are more likely to reach – and surpass – the age of 85! You don’t have to be Pollyanna, but you should make an effort to manage your stress, relax, and focus on spiritual growth, not the perceived limitations of aging.
Sometimes, when people retire, they may feel like they have lost their life’s purpose and can feel down or depressed. Some great ways for older adults to stay connected with their purpose include:
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Joining, or becoming more involved with, a religious organization
- Surrounding yourself with other positive people
- Setting reasonable expectations for yourself and accepting the things that you cannot change
- Embracing aging!
9. Evaluate Your Home’s Safety
Is your home conducive to aging well? The way your house is set up can have a big impact on your health as you age! Risks to evaluate include the fall hazards, adequate lighting, and the need for assistive devices. In-home fall hazards include:
- Blocked walkways (think boxes, stacks of newspapers, electrical and phone cords)
- Cluttered high traffic areas (typically with extraneous furniture like coffee tables, plant stands, and magazine racks)
- Slippery, loose rugs
- Wrinkled carpets
- Food prep spills
As your eyes age, you will need stronger, brighter illumination, even during the day. That’s why many senior living communities keep the need for better visuals in mind when interior decorating; they are equipped with specially patterned carpets and high-watt lighting solutions. From installing grab bars to making your home more wheelchair friendly, many seniors don’t anticipate their future physical needs. A great new year’s resolution for older adults is to schedule a tour at a senior living community. Retirement communities like Luther Manor are designed with the needs of seniors in mind.
10. Plan Ahead
While it is tempting to kick back and relax in retirement, don’t avoid planning for your future care needs! It can feel overwhelming, but there are many resources online for seniors and those who love them, including our handy list of future planning questions. If you prefer in-person assistance, get in touch with a geriatric social worker.
Your most important New Year’s resolution is to tour 55+ communities like Luther Manor to find the best fit for you! Contact a friendly member of our team to schedule a personal tour or to learn more about the complete continuum of care our life plan community provides.