“Happy New Year!” The end of another Earth orbit around the Sun – marking the beginning of a new journey into another year – full of possibilities and opportunities to evaluate your past goals and either re-commit or create some new goals!
How to Make New Year Resolutions Stick: Be Realistic & Obtainable
When making New Years resolutions – as with any goal you create – it’s important to remember to take baby steps and make your goals as realistic and obtainable as possible.
It’s much easier for you to ask your mind to accept and act on smaller modifications, rather than try to make giant leaps in changing our behavior, and simply expect it to “stick”. For example, if you haven’t been exercising regularly, it’s best not to set a goal to run the Boston Marathon this coming April. But what if, instead, you simply make the goal, “move more”? Seems like a pretty obtainable, realistic thing to do, doesn’t it? Because the goal is achievable, it’s approachable and our minds will likely accepting the idea of nice, easy walk for ten or fifteen minutes a day.
With this in mind, we would like to share 5 achievable New Year Resolutions for seniors – that we hope will have a positive impact on your senior lifestyle, in 2015.
~ 5 Achievable New Year Resolutions for Seniors ~
1. Laugh More
Studies have shown that simple act of laughing can
reduce stress, enhance learning, reduce short term memory loss,
and – in just about every way – benefit our mind, body and spirit.
So go ahead and enjoy those funny videos your grandchildren share with you on Facebook, watch your favorite comedies on TV with friends, and share stories about something that made you laugh today with someone else who will laugh with you.
Because, just by having a laugh with those you love – you’ll actually be laughing all the way to a better quality of life in 2015.
2. Move More
As you age, it’s important to stay active through senior exercise – because regular senior fitness doesn’t JUST make your body stronger, healthier and more vibrant – but ALSO reduces your stress level and energizes your mood, having a positive effect on your mind and emotions. With these positive benefits of regular senior exercise – your body and mind will stay active – allowing you to more effectively manage symptoms of illness or pain, maintain your independence within your own home, as well as ultimately extend the length of your own life.
Don’t Let Your Low or Limited Mobility Put Limits Your Senior Fitness Future
Low or limited mobility shouldn’t discourage you from taking advantage of the short and long term benefits of regular senior fitness. There are actually a large variety of limited to low mobility exercise options that could be just right for your personal senior fitness level – like senior balance exercises, chair exercises, chair yoga for seniors, water aerobics, and even Tai Chi exercises for seniors.
- Helps with Arthritis
- Enhances mental capacity & concentration
- Releases endorphins, allowing you gain energy rather than deplete you
- Promotes fast recovery from heart attack or stroke
- Improves conditions of Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease
- Improves depression, anxiety or stress
- Helps control blood sugar levels for seniors with Diabetes
- Provides awareness and enhancement of your respiratory system
- Increases bone density to prevent Osteoporosis
- Improves balance, decreasing your risk and fear of falling
- Increases balance and flexibility to help prevent falls
- Decreases the potential severity of injuries obtained, if a fall does occur
- Strengthens bones making them more resistant to fracture(s)
- Helps maintain brain function with age
- Improves your posture and body alignment
- Takes the stress off tight knees, hips and joints
- Reduces impact and risk of injury – safe for those with weak joints, Arthritis & Osteoporosis
- Increases bone density
- Assists blood flow, reduces heart rate as well as workload on the heart
Over 55? Talk to Your Doctor Before Beginning A Senior Fitness Program
If you’re a man over 45 or woman over 55, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) & the American Heart Association (AHA) both recommend taking the time to consult with your primary care physician before you begin any new senior fitness programs. Especially if you’ve been rather inactive or have had health issues in the past.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Health Care Provider :
- Will my current health condition affect my ability to exercise?
- How much exercise would you recommend per day? per week?
- What type or styles of exercise should I focus on?
- What movements 0r exercises should I avoid?
- Should I take medication at a certain time around my exercise routine?
- Should I take and and track my pulse while exercising?
3. Make healthier food choices
Each year, “making a habit out of healthy eating” tops a lot of New Year’s resolutions lists, and for good reason!
Your current diet is made up of the day-to-day food choices you choose to eat, which directly impact your:
- Energy levels
- Blood pressure
- Weight gain and loss
- Cholesterol levels
- Overall health conditions
A balanced, healthy diet can help reduce your risk or help you manage living with:
- Heart Disease
- Bone Loss
- Some types of Cancer
- Type 2 Diabetes
A balanced diet containing a healthy nutritional mix provides a senior’s aging body
with one of the best ways to improve and protect your health as you age.
Which means “making good choices when it comes to your diet as often as possible”, isn’t JUST a “good idea for a New Years Resolution” or “something you think about when you want or need to loose some weight”.
Try this out for 2015: During this coming year, before you just rush to the fridge and have your “usual,” try thinking about each snack or meal that you eat – as simply an opportunity or chance or choice to practice healthy eating every day, to benefit your whole body, mind and well-being.
A little shift in language may help you here – allowing a little memory cue to simply remind you – that you do have a choice in the whole matter of what you eat and fuel your body with. This will give you a little time, an opportunity to pause, make a considerate, conscious choice and perhaps to practice something new.
To help you get started – we’ve included an easy to follow “food groups plate” infographic – you may notice that each slice of the plate below references the portion size that the USDA has suggested through the release of the Healthy & Balanced Nutrition Guidelines from the USDA.
This handy older adult specific “food groups plate” infographic was created by Tufts Now – the nutrition scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University – just for the older adult, to assist seniors in the understanding and selection of a balanced, healthy diet.
Additional Resources for Older Adult or Senior Diet & Nutrition
4. Drink Less AlcoholWhile older adults tend to drink less alcohol than younger folks, there are few “later in life” situations more common to the 65+ age group that may require a senior to step back and re-evaluate both how often as well as how much alcohol he or she consumes.
It is especially important for senior citizens to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol more often – as aging can actually lower the body’s tolerance to the effects of alcohol.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2010 –
found that nearly 40% of adults age 65 and older drink alcohol.
Older adults can experience a variety of problems and complications
from drinking alcohol, especially those who:
Some Medications & Alcohol Just Don’t Mix –
Always Read Your Medication Labels & Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist
These days, there are many medications – from arthritis medications to sleep aids – that can’t interact with alcohol in one way or another that can be harmful, even deadly. Also, due to the slower metabolism of seniors – medications as well as the effects of alcohol can stay in the body for at least several hours.
Don’t take chances! If you aren’t 100% sure that ALL – both the “over the counter” and prescription medications – you are taking are safe to drink with, then don’t drink. Protect yourself by avoiding alcohol if you are taking a medication and don’t know its effect. To learn more about a medicine and whether it will interact with alcohol, talk to your pharmacist or other health care provider.
Some of the More Common Health and Social Issues Caused by Alcohol Use and Abuse
- Negative impacts or impairments to cognitive functions – sometimes initially misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s
- Negative impacts to relationships
- Accidents causing bodily to either themselves or others – sometimes caused by impairment of senses – such as falls, slips, as well as car accidents sadly
- Impairment of proper senses, balance or fine motor skills while under the influence of alcohol
- Some kinds of Cancers
- Liver damage from prolonged habitual use
- Potential to worsen many other health conditions
So just how much alcohol is considered too much?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health,
people over age 65 should have no more than 7 drinks a week, and no more than 3 drinks on any one day.
Do you have a health problem? Are you taking a medication that interact with alcohol?
You may need to drink less or perhaps not drink at all – consult your doctor for a specific recommendation of how much and when, based on your medications schedule
Looking to cut back or cut out alcohol from your senior lifestyle in 2015?
If you would like some assistance and support – here are some ways to get help:
You don’t have to go travel the road to recovery alone, as you either cut back or quit drinking alcohol entirely –
there is a lot of support – both individuals that will want to show you support as well as groups – that are available to help.
- Talk to your doctor about medications that may work to assist you in curbing your desire to drink
- Need some community support? Check out a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous and Seniors in Sobriety
- Seek individual or group counseling from those familiar with alcohol and older adults or the elderly
Additional Resources about Alcohol & Seniors
5. Be Your Own Cheerleader
Try to build yourself up, not break yourself down.
Anytime you take positive steps or actions toward your goals, even just a little bit, remember to reward yourself! Be kind and appreciative to yourself in all of your self-talk, and it will go a long way to improving your confidence and outlook on life!
Applaud your efforts – rather than berating yourself for not having done “enough.” When you start to hear the voice of self-doubt, gently remind yourself of the positive changes you’re looking forward to AND the positive benefits you’ve already experienced along the way. By allowing yourself to celebrate your small successes while on your journey, will boost your happiness which gives you the momentum to keep moving forward.
For all of your new year resolution goals, baby steps are key, just remember – realistic and obtainable.
Have a healthy, happy 2015!