The New Year is usually a promising time of planning and anticipation. Many people, including older adults, welcome the New Year with resolve to improve or maintain their health. This can mean any number of activities and lifestyle changes depending on one’s outlook, experiences or health conditions. Older adults and their caregivers have a fresh unmarked calendar to begin to make small shifts in daily routines and changes in attitudes towards challenges, both mental and physical. While resolutions may seem clichéd, putting together a few thoughts for approaching the New Year can offer an opportunity to reorient oneself. Below are a few goals to consider.
Do More Hobbies That You Enjoy
Managing complex and chronic health concerns can be overwhelming and become the sole focus of life. Remembering medications, keeping up with doctors’ appointments or simply being able to move in one’s home, or outside of the home, may present daily obstacles. It’s important, however, to make sure not to give up on or lose sight of the hobbies and activities that bring joy and excitement. Hobbies and activities that don’t revolve around caregiving duties or self-care can reduce mental stress and ease physical fatigue. Interests like journaling, reading, singing, art, meditating, or listening to music, can help maintain a positive life balance. Depending on one’s mobility, incorporating outside activities like hiking (including wheelchair trails), volunteering, social gatherings, day programs, meeting people or staying involved in community activities can fight off depression and mental illness. Taking daily time to spend with family and friends and doing whatever makes one happy can relief tension and anxiety.
Eat Healthier, Sleep More and Stay Active
Eating plenty of nutritious food and sleeping enough every night may be two of the easiest steps to boost physical and mental health. The right foods in sensible portions can aid digestion, medication absorption and effectiveness, and raise energy levels. Eating healthy doesn’t mean having boring or even expensive meals. For example, taking a cooking class, learning new recipes or trying new dishes can be exciting and enjoyable. Alternatively, sleep deprivation can lead to sickness, heart disease, diabetes, and a whole host of other ailments. Being tired from a lack of sleep can increase risks of falls or harm due to fatigue, and not having enough rest can cause emotional drain and related physical responses.
Get Support and Resources When Needed
Lack of social support can have a negative impact on health and well-being, especially for older adults. Having a variety of positive social supports from family, caregivers, religious or social services can contribute to psychological and physical wellness. Community-based services and Chronic Care Management care teams can be extremely useful for older adults, particularly those with limited mobility or dealing with many complex health issues. Resources can be accessed in many places including senior centers, assisted living facilities, meal delivery, religious affiliations, adult day care centers, and so forth. These services can provide positive social supports that can help older persons defeat loneliness and isolation.
The New Year brings an open window for expanding the universe of experiences and social connections. Adopting a few goals related to leisure time, eating better, being more active and taking advantage of social support and outside resources can be key to overall quality of life and satisfaction.
Written by Joseph F. West, ScD on Thursday, 05 January 2017. Posted in Wellness, Social Support, Senior Living, Community Resources, Nutrition, Social Interaction, CCM