Making New Year's resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, monitor your weight, see your healthcare provider on a regular basis, or quit smoking for good can help you stay healthier and feel better for many years to come.
The American Geriatrics Society's Health in Aging Foundation suggests the following top ten healthy New Year's resolutions for older adults to help you achieve your goal of becoming and staying healthy.
Consume fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats.
You do need healthy foods in your later years, but you need fewer calories. The USDA's Choose My Plate program (choosemyplate.gov) and your healthcare provider can assist you in making healthy decisions. Consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Consume dark green, bright yellow, and orange varieties such as spinach, collard greens, carrots, oranges, and cantaloupe. Incorporate nuts, beans, and/or legumes into your daily diet.
Choose whole grain bread, brown rice, and whole grain pasta that are high in fiber.
Eat leaner meats such as chicken or turkey. Twice a week, eat heart-healthy fish such as tuna, salmon, or shrimp.
Include calcium and vitamin D sources to help keep your bones strong. Two servings of low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese per day are a good source of these nutrients. Instead of butter or lard, use healthier fats like olive and canola oils. When cooking, use herbs and spices to add flavor, which reduces the need for salt or fat.
Take part in activities.
Even if you have heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis, physical activity can be safe and healthy for older adults! Many of these conditions, in fact, improve with mild to moderate physical activity. Chair exercise, water aerobics, walking, and stretching can also help you control your weight, build muscle and bones, and improve your balance, posture, and mood.
Consult with your health care provider on a regular basis.
Schedule an annual Medicare wellness visit with your healthcare provider around the month of your birthday to discuss health screenings and any changes to your advance directives. Talk to your provider about all of the medications you're taking and whether you still need them at each visit. Find out if you need any new or booster immunizations/shots.
Take precautions to avoid falls.
Every year, one in every three older adults falls, and falls are a leading cause of injury and death among the elderly. Walking or working out with an elastic band can improve your strength, balance, and flexibility while also helping you avoid falls. Also, check with your doctor to make sure you're not taking any medications that could make you more prone to falling. Throw rugs and other items that are easy to trip over should be removed from your home. Install grab bars in your bathtub or shower, as well as night lights, to make it easier to see at night.
Check alcohol consumption
Excessive drinking can make you depressed, increase your chances of falling, make it difficult to sleep, interact with your medications, and contribute to other health problems. One drink equals 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of hard liquor. The recommended limit for older men is 14 drinks per week, and for older women is 7 drinks per week.
Give your brain a break
The more you use your brain, the better it will function. Reading is an excellent option. Joining a bridge club or a discussion group at your local library or senior center will also benefit your brain. Alternatively, enroll in a course at your local community college; some offer free classes to adults 65 and older.
Give up smoking
Did you know that cigarette smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop heart disease? It is never too late to give up. If you quit smoking, you can still reduce your risk of many health problems, breathe easier, have more energy, and sleep better. You can find resources on the National Cancer Institute's website (www.smokefree.gov). In addition, seek assistance from your healthcare provider. Don't give up if you've previously failed to quit. Smokers typically attempt to quit four times before quitting for good.
Speak up if you are feeling down or anxious
One in every five older adults suffers from depression or anxiety. Lingering sadness, tiredness, loss of appetite, or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy are all possible symptoms of depression. You might also have trouble sleeping, worry, irritability, and a desire to be alone. If you have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, consult your doctor and reach out to friends and family.
Get enough rest
Isn't it true that older people require less sleep than younger people? Wrong! Older people require at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Avoid daytime naps, which can keep you awake late at night. For more information on how to sleep better, go to the National Sleep Foundation's website (www.sleepfoundation.org).