Happy New Year!
It’s not uncommon to hear of health resolutions like exercise more, lose weight, quit smoking or eat healthier. We’ll explore why health goals like these are important to become and stay healthy. So, if one or more of these items is on your personal goal list, hopefully this will encourage you!
Here are the top 10 healthy New Year’s resolutions for older adults recommended by the American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation:
As you age, your body still requires healthy foods, but you will need fewer calories. Strive to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy and healthy fats. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day in a variety of colors. Eat nuts and beans daily along with fiber-rich whole grain bread, brown rice, and whole-grain pasta. Try to avoid fatty meats by choosing lean-meat options like chicken or turkey. Also, you can eat heart-healthy fish a couple of times each week. Add sources of calcium and Vitamin D to your diet like milk, yogurt or cheese. Healthy fats are great options (like olive and canola oils). You can spice up your food to add extra flavoring when cooking. You can seek out healthy choices through your physician or a dietitian.
CONSIDER DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS AND/OR A MULTIVITAMIN
Consult your healthcare provider regarding any supplements or vitamins that you would benefit from. There are over-the-counter options that may be helpful in your quest to stay as healthy and strong as possible.
Even if you have a diagnosis that impacts your health (like heart disease, diabetes or arthritis), physical activity can still be safe for older adults. If so, this is encouraged and can often help with some of the symptoms related to these conditions. There are local resources available for you to explore exercise opportunities. Check with your physician, senior centers, gyms, for information on senior activities programs in your area.
VISIT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
As a rule of thumb, you should schedule an annual wellness check with your healthcare provider around your birthday. At this visit you can discuss any changes or concerns that you may have, the current medications that you’re taking, and any recommended health screenings or immunizations. The screenings may test your hearing, vision, or other conditions such as osteoporosis or breast or colon cancer. Of course, if you have any concerns about your health you should schedule an appointment with your provider right away.
LIMIT YOUR ALCOHOL
At any age, excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided as it can make you feel depressed, cause trouble sleeping, make you feel physically ill, and cause overall health problems. Older adults should be extra careful because it can interact with medications and increase your risk of falling. One drink is considered 12 ounces of standard beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Older men should limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks daily, and older women to 1 drink daily. (There are variables to this based on other factors, such as weight.)
PREVENT A FALL
Falls are the leading cause of injuries in older adults, and in fact, one in three older adults fall each year. There are steps you can take to help prevent a fall as well as exercises that can increase your strength, balance and flexibility. Check with your healthcare provider regarding medications you may be taking that increase your chance of falling. Remove items like rugs from the home that can cause you to trip and fall, and add night lights to help you see better in the dark. You can also install grab bars in the shower and seek out other equipment that may help with mobility.
KEEP YOUR BRAIN BUSY
The more you use your brain, the better it works. There are plenty of things you can do to engage your mind like read, do crossword puzzles or play solitaire or Sudoku. Socialization is also a great way to give your brain a boost, so explore social opportunities in your area such as clubs or senior center discussions. You could also volunteer, take a community education class, or even take a college course. Some colleges offer free courses for senior citizens.
It’s safe to say that if you’re a smoker, you already know that it’s a bad habit. Many older adults who smoke have been smoking most of their adult life. It’s never too late to quit!
You can still reduce health problems, breathe easier, increase your energy and sleep more soundly if you stop smoking. Ask your healthcare provider for help with this. Even if you haven’t succeeded at quitting in the past, you shouldn’t give up hope. On average, most smokers who successfully stop smoking tried 4 times to quit before they gave up the habit.
You can access https://smokefree.gov/ for additional resources.
SPEAK UP ABOUT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
About 1 in 5 older adults suffer from depression or anxiety. Some signs of depression are ongoing feelings of sadness, fatigue, changes in appetite, or losing the desire to do things that you enjoy. Also, you may have difficulty sleeping, feel worried or irritable, or a desire to isolate yourself. Talk to your support network and your healthcare provider if you’re struggling, or if you’re experiencing any of these signs for more than two weeks.
GET ADEQUATE SLEEP
It’s important to get enough sleep to feel your best. Older adults should get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Avoid daytime naps if this keeps you up during the night. You can access https://sleepfoundation.org/ for additional information and tips on how to sleep better. You should contact your medical provider if you have ongoing issues with getting adequate sleep.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other healthcare provider. Always consult your healthcare provider about your medications, symptoms, and health problems.