Losing weight. Saving money. Being more polite.
These desirable actions commonly appear on lists of resolutions at the start of each new year. Despite the best-laid plans, experts say resolutions often are broken almost immediately — usually because they trigger feelings of deprivation that lead to resuming old behaviors.
But this year, we want to offer you some resolutions that should be easy to keep. Rather than causing you to feel deprived, these resolutions are designed to increase your joy and vibrancy. As we ring in 2017, consider these 12 realistic New Year’s resolutions for seniors.
1. Get Back in Touch
Losing touch with old friends and loved ones seems to happen in an instant. We mean to reach out, but before we know it, time is slipping away. Don’t let another year go by without reestablishing contact with someone who holds a special spot in your heart.
Calling may be the next best thing to being there, but social media and email are pretty great as well. By taking a minute to place a quick call or send a note, you bring joy to yourself and your friend or relative.
2. Visit Some New Places
Whether you jet set around the world or simply explore your own state, travel is a fantastic hobby. By getting out of your local area for a bit, you may broaden your horizons and gain a new perspective on what’s important in life.
Many seniors enjoy planning periodic trips with groups of friends who like the same types of activities. For example, if you’re traveling with people interested in the arts, you might plan to visit the ballet, theater or opera.
More-rugged types might enjoy hunting or fishing, while those who value fitness might prefer skiing or snowboarding. Many other hobbies — think birdwatching, cooking, music and crafts — also can serve as fun themes for trips.
If you have family members in a different state, consider visiting once in a while for a change of scenery and fellowship with loved ones. Wherever you opt to go, be sure to check out the numerous available senior travel packages and special discounts.
And if you love travel but you’re not able to get out due to health concerns, you have plenty of options at home. The internet can “virtually” take you just about anywhere you want to go with its endless options for photos, videos and travel logs.
3. Lower Your Risk of Falls
Every year, millions of individuals over the age of 65 suffer falls. If you fall once, you have twice the chance of falling a second time, and the consequences can be devastating; falls are responsible for more than 95 percent of hip fractures.
As you age, it’s crucial to take actions that reduce your risk of suffering a debilitating fall. Even if you feel safe in your home, a fall can occur at any time.
Your first line of defense is fall-proofing your home or living space. Mayo Clinic offers the following advice for making your home safer from falls:
- Look around for any loose rugs or throw mats; slipping on a rug is one of the top causes of falls among seniors.
- Move clutter — including stacks of magazines, boxes, cables and pieces of furniture — out of areas where you walk.
- Make sure you can reach dishes and food in your pantry and cabinets easily.
- Clean up any spilled liquids or foods right away to avoid slipping and falling.
- Add non-slip mats, a bath seat and handrails to your tub or shower.
- Make sure lighting is adequate throughout your home, including outdoors. Use night lights when you’re sleeping to ensure a clear path to the bathroom, and stow a flashlight where you can easily reach it from bed in case of a power outage.
4. Lose Yourself in a Good Book
When was the last time you became absorbed in a riveting book? If you’re not a regular reader, it’s a pastime worth adding to your resolutions list for the new year. Research has found multiple health benefits of reading for seniors, including reduced rates of memory decline. By reading, you give your memory a workout, which helps with your ability to remember events in the short term.
And by reading regularly, you also may improve your decision-making skills and potentially delay symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Experts say that engaging in activities that challenge your brain helps boost the reserve of neuronal connections, which helps delay the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Stress reduction is another benefit of enjoying a good book on a regular basis. Research has found that reading provides more benefits than going for a walk or listening to music for lowering your heart rate and muscle tension.
In addition, reading in bed can even help you sleep better. By creating a bedtime ritual such as reading, your body gets the signal that it’s time to go to sleep. Watching TV has the opposite effect, by the way.
5. Ward off Boredom and Isolation
Especially for seniors with limited mobility due to health concerns, isolation and boredom can cause significant problems — including negative impacts for both physical and mental wellness.
What are some of the best ways for seniors to fight boredom? If you have a senior center in your community, you’ll find that it provides an array of services, including classes, support groups, meals and day programs.
Senior centers typically are funded by your county or city, and they offer different programs depending on the characteristics of the individual community. In your local senior center, you may find programming like political discussion groups, dances and outdoor hikes.
If you live alone, consider a move to a senior living community, where you’ll find companionship along with a wide variety of activities to keep your mind and body active.
6. Plan Workouts for Your Brain
Keeping your brain active should be high on your list of New Year’s resolutions. By challenging yourself mentally, you give your brain a boost on an ongoing basis.
Consider activities like puzzles and sudoku when you’re on your own. If you prefer socializing while you increase your brain power, think about joining a group that engages in bridge or other games, book discussions, or discourse on politics and current events.
Keeping your brain active may help lower your risk of developing dementia later in your life, research has found.
7. Bring Home a Furry Friend
Pets aren’t suitable for everyone, but if you adore animals, the right pet can bring many years of unconditional love, companionship and fun into your life. Research has documented a number of mental and physical benefits for seniors who have pets, and many senior living communities welcome gentle animals that visit with residents frequently.
If you consider bringing home a pet, make sure it’s a breed — and temperament — that will work well for you. If you live in a small apartment or don’t spend much time exercising outdoors, a Great Dane may not be the right choice.
Whatever type of pet you select, consider giving a home to an animal from a shelter or rescue organization. Some offer special programs for seniors who wish to adopt a pet.
8. Focus on Fun Fitness Activities
Participating in activities that boost your fitness levels can improve your overall health and provide a number of additional benefits. By staying fit, you also can increase your balance and strength, which reduces the risk of suffering a debilitating fall.
In most climates, walking is the perfect exercise. If you walk with a friend, you can turn fitness into a time for socializing and enjoy the company of someone you care about. During winter or when it’s stormy out, consider window shopping as you walk in a local mall.
Swimming is another fitness activity that can seem effortless because it’s so much fun. If you haven’t hopped into a pool lately, how about taking a swim at your senior living community or a local YMCA? Swimming provides a variety of health benefits, including reducing pain from osteoarthritis, lowering your risk of chronic illnesses, reducing depression, and enhancing your mood.
9. Get Interested in Lifelong Learning
Are you a naturally curious person? If you love finding out more about the world, consider continuing your education. Lifelong learning programs geared to older adults are offered in many community colleges and through various online sources. These programs have become highly popular in the last few years, with nearly half of U.S. adults participating in some form of ongoing education.
In a lifelong learning program, you can keep your body and mind active by pursuing knowledge in a variety of subject areas. Continuing your educational pursuits can provide a range of benefits, including improving your memory and self-confidence, saving money as you learn new skills, meeting like-minded people, and feeling a sense of accomplishment.
If you’re a resident of a senior living community, you have a variety of lifelong learning choices at your disposal. In addition, many educational institutions offer programming geared to seniors.
10. Ease Into a Healthier Diet
Dieting commonly tops New Year’s resolution lists, but experts say dangerous crash diets can leave you worse off than if you’d simply stayed at the same weight all along. Detox programs, fasts, yo-yo diets, trendy “cleanses” and the like can seriously harm your health.
Instead, consider gradual changes that allow you to include a wider range of nutritious foods in your everyday meal plan. To eat right, don’t feel that you must cut out whole categories of foods — such as fats or carbohydrates. By progressively introducing some healthy foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruits, you can enjoy improvements to your health with minimal deprivation.
11. Give Back to Your Community
No matter where you live, many volunteer opportunities are likely available for seniors of different levels of ability. You’ll find programs offered through local government agencies, nonprofit groups, churches and other organizations.
Soup kitchens, rescue missions, animal shelters, schools, libraries and many other groups can use your lifetime of skills and expertise. By giving of your most valuable resource — your time — you take a positive step to improve the lives of others.
12. Leave Some Breathing Room
If you commit to several of these New Year’s resolutions, you may find your schedule full to the brim with volunteer activities, exercise, socializing, hobbies and more. But for your overall health and wellbeing, it’s important to allow yourself some time and space for rest and reflection. By taking some time to unwind, you improve your odds of sticking to your resolutions throughout the year.
Whether you want to focus on improving your health, making new friends or getting involved in the community, The Overlook offers a variety of ways to live life to the fullest. To learn more about a vibrant retirement lifestyle for the new year, please contact us.