New year, new you! That’s what they always say. But maybe there’s a better mindset. Many people set new year’s resolutions so high that they are not attainable. You can’t just set a few resolutions, and they become a completely different person. What you can do is set some goals for yourself that are small but will have a big impact long term. Small and attainable goals are easier to start and easier to maintain. And they will help jumpstart healthy habits that will stick with you for years.
So come with us as we start the new year off right!
Create an Exercise Routine
One of the most popular new year’s resolutions is to get in shape. It’s how gyms sell so many memberships every year. But for many seniors, an exercise resolution is more about staying healthy and controlling current health problems.
Even 5 to 10 minutes of movement daily can have noticeable health benefits. An exercise program for seniors could look like an intense gym workout but is more likely to look like a walk around the block or getting out into the garden to weed once a day. And that’s fine. Strenuous exercise may not be feasible for every senior. Everyone is different and can handle different amounts of activity depending on age and health.
So choose the exercise plan that works best for you. When done right, regular exercise can have immense benefits. Studies have shown that many diseases, including diabetes and colon cancer, may be prevented through regular exercise.
An exercise program for seniors is good for your whole body, including your joints, muscles, bones, and heart. Keeping your joints, muscles, and bones healthy is especially important in seniors at high risk for falls. Caring for your body can help prevent falls in the first place by improving your stamina and strength. And if you do fall, healthy bones are less likely to fracture or break. A healthier body will also heal faster from injury, getting you right back to your life. And we can’t forget heart health. Good cardiovascular health can help prevent high blood pressure and heart disease.
Exercise is also great for mental health. Exercise releases our “feel-good” hormones, endorphins. These hormones lift our mood and can help with anxiety, depression, and getting a good night’s sleep. And, of course, you are more likely to want to exercise if you feel good, so it’s a cycle that feeds itself.
But how do you get started? Starting is easy. You just have to understand how to motivate yourself. Check out this National Institute of Health guide on creating healthy habits. The biggest thing you can do is make starting and maintaining a new habit easy and fun for yourself. For example, if your goal is to go for a walk every day, how can you make that easy and fun? You could invite a friend to walk with you, so there is an obligation. You will also have some great company! Or you could walk your dog at the same time every day. The dog will hold you accountable and let you know when it’s time for a walk! Or you can track your habits using a tracker app or a journal. That way, you can see the progress you’ve made every single day.
Reach Out to Family and Friends
Connecting to others is so important. Humans are social and will feel depressed when isolated. It’s common for seniors to feel isolated and disconnected for many reasons. Getting out of the house may be more difficult because of chronic health problems or a lack of stamina. But if you have family nearby, it’s always worth setting up a time to get together. Even meeting up for lunch or attending a big family dinner can leave anyone feeling connected to their loved ones.
Keeping up with family becomes extra special when a new member is born. Going to see a new baby can lift anyone’s mood. Keep in mind that babies grow incredibly fast. So visit as often as you can to be present in every stage of the child’s life.
If you cannot see family in person, many apps and programs will let you see your loved ones in real-time on your computer or phone. Setting up a meeting is easy and will still give you a great sense of connection and help you keep up with the family.
Of course, not everyone has a family that they are close to, and many people have very close friends that they consider family. So make sure to set aside time to be around other important people in your life. Catching up with friends and everything in their life is a beautiful way to pass the time. Setting a regular meeting time may help coordinate conflicting schedules and ensure that no one is left feeling isolated and alone.
And always remember, no one is too old to make new friends. If you feel isolated, look for events or programs to attend. Many events are virtual now so you can participate from the comfort of your home.
Keep Your Mind Stimulated
Keeping your brain active as you age can be so important. You can do this in many ways, including picking up a new hobby, learning a new art form, or getting into puzzles.
There are so many ways to express yourself through art. The internet is full of tutorials, even for beginners. Yarn crafts like knitting and crocheting are incredibly popular because you take your suppliessit and work wherever you want. You can also work on a scarf or sweater while watching your favorite show. These crafts are great because you can make practical items for yourself or as gifts.
Or you can take up other crafts like drawing or painting. There are so many possibilities with what you can do. And the best part is, you don’t even have to make “good” art. You are making this art for you, and it can be whatever you want it to be. The point of art is to make you happy, so if it’s calling you, look up a tutorial and get started!
Another way to keep your mind busy is to do puzzles. This could include traditional puzzles, crossword puzzles, or whatever other types you prefer. The point is to find something you enjoy that keeps your mind sharp.
Take Control of Your Health
The next one is less fun but no less critical. Keeping up with doctor’s visits is vital, especially as you age. Try to see a doctor at least once a year to check in about any new and old health problems, check that you are up to date on immunizations, and check in about your medications.
And remember to schedule any follow-up visits you might need. Keeping up with your health can make all the difference when something goes wrong. And health problems tend to spread faster and build up as we age. So keep up on visits so you can keep feeling like your best self for as long as possible.
And last but not least, the new year is a great time to jumpstart healthy eating habits. Our bodies change as we age, and our nutritional needs change too. Take a look at your daily meals and whether or not you are getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals. It helps to check if you are getting a good variety from every food group, including:
Avoid foods with too much sodium, and always drink plenty of water. Also, be aware of any food intolerances and substitute accordingly.
And if you have problems grocery shopping or cooking healthy meals because of factors like disability or chronic illness, you may be eligible for our program, Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa. We can help you gain healthy eating habits and a more structured, balanced routine. Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa and our partners have one of the best home delivery service for seniors!
Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa
Contra Costa Meal on Wheels is a program dedicated to ensuring every senior in our community has access to healthy and nutritious meals. Our senior meal program delivers food right to the doors of those in need and provides vital community support. We provide the best home meal delivery service for seniors to homebound citizens who cannot go grocery shopping or cook nutritious meals for themselves. Call us today and find out if Meal on Wheels is right for you or your loved ones. Let’s start the new year off right together!