Ten 2015 Healthy Aging Resolutions
The holidays are over! If you are like most of us, a bit of overindulgence went along with the holiday cheer. But now the eggnog, fruitcake, latkes, pies and candy canes have all been consumed, and life is getting back to normal.
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 2014, 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: Add at least 10% more physical activity to your daily routine. Simply speaking, exercise has a positive effect on virtually every body system. No matter what your health status, there is some form of exercise you can do. And what about a balance training class? Speak 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.”
Resolution #3: Learn a new skill. With today’s sophisticated brain imagery techniques, neurologists can now actually see that mental stimulation encourages new connections between brain cells. They 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. It can help seniors avoid this painful, sometimes debilitating condition. While you’re at it, be sure your other immunizations are up to date as well.
Resolution #6: Plant a vegetable garden. What a nice way to get some exercise and add nutritious veggies to your menu! If you don’t have a yard or you have mobility challenges, 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. Several studies this year confirmed 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 house. Look for situations and conditions that could be hazardous as you move from place to place. Removing clutter and fixing unsafe conditions help 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. As the old summer camp song goes, “Make new friends and keep the old/One is silver and the other gold.” Recent research confirms that 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 new year!