It’s the start of a new year, and many of us have looked forward to 2021 more than any new year before. Let’s face it – 2020 was tough for all of us. The pandemic changed our daily lives, brought on many forms of loss, and forced us to miss out on a lot of experiences.
But, 2020 also gave many of us a new outlook. It helped us appreciate the things we already have, and to find new ways to get things done.
We came together, even if not in person, to get through the challenges of the coronavirus. We cheered on our front line workers. We made bread. We supported our local businesses and stepped up to help those in need.
So now begs the question – after all that we’ve experienced in 2020, what will your New Year’s resolution be this year?
We must continue to be vigilant against COVID-19 and take the right precautions. As we stay safe by socially distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing, we can also take January as a time to turn over a new leaf.
To help seniors set New Year’s goals, we’ve made a list of things you might try this year.
1. Improve your diet
The older you get, the more important it is to pay attention to your diet. New Year’s is a great time to take note of what you’ve been consuming. Now that the holidays have passed, try to focus on healthy foods that improve wellness and prevent illness.
The USDA’s Choose My Plate program and your healthcare providers can help you make healthy choices that fit your individual needs.
You should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Include nuts, beans, or legumes in your daily diet, as well as whole grains. Try to eat leaner meats, such as chicken and turkey, and seafood at least twice a week. Keep your bones strong with calcium and Vitamin D-rich foods on a weekly basis.
Before making changes to your diet, consult with your doctor. If you have a hard time preparing meals or shopping for food, consider a home-delivered meal program such as Meals On Wheels for diet-specific meals delivered right to your door.
2. Get active
Physical activity can be safe and enjoyable for older adults – you just need to find an activity that is right for you! Consider getting more active with yoga, walking, or light exercises to help you stay healthy.
Although you may not be comfortable going out in public to exercise right now, many gyms, community centers, and online forums are offering virtual exercise groups and classes. Some of these may be free or inexpensive.
Remember, consult with your physician before trying any new physical activities, and do not push yourself past your limit.
3. Keep up with doctors’ appointments
Going to the doctor’s office can be a little scary right now, but it’s important to keep up with regular appointments to manage your health. When is the last time you had a checkup? This year, mark your calendar for when you should see your healthcare providers.
Check with your doctor and insurance company to see if you are able to make virtual appointments. This allows you to see your healthcare provider via phone or video call from your home.
If you make an in-person appointment, know that healthcare workers are doing everything possible to keep you safe. If you have questions, you can always call the doctor’s office to find out the safety procedures and what you should expect before showing up for an appointment.
4. Prevent falls
Did you know that one in four older adults falls each year, and falls are the leading cause of injuries and death among older adults? Now more than ever, seniors should avoid hospital visits and fall injuries. Make it a goal this January to fall-proof your home.
One way to reduce your risk of a fall is by improving your balance, strength, and flexibility with simple exercises. You should also check with your healthcare provider to make sure none of your medications make you more susceptible to falls.
Check that your home is helping you stay safe from falls, not making them more likely. Remove items that you could trip over, such as electrical cords, rugs with overturned corners, or clutter in walkways. Install grab bars in your bathtub or shower and railings along stairways.
5. Exercise your mind
Since we are stuck at home right now, it can be easy to get into the routine of watching hours of television. But just like it’s important to exercise your body, it’s also important to give your brain a workout.
One great way to keep your mind active this year is to read. Many libraries now offer delivery services to seniors, so you don’t have to go to the branch for materials. You could also join a virtual club for socializing, card games, or discussing a common interest.
Puzzles are a good way to keep your brain active. Or, you might consider taking an online class through a local college. Many classes are free to seniors.
6. Get enough sleep
Sleep is something we tend to look over, but it is so important! New Year’s is a good time to check in on your sleep schedule and make sure you are getting enough.
Just like anyone else, older individuals need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundation’s website for tips on how to sleep better.
7. Be more social with safety in mind
Cold weather and the pandemic have made life more isolating than ever. If you’re a senior who is feeling lonely, make it a New Year’s goal to be more social while being safe.
Make a list of the people that you may have lost touch with and would like to re-connect. Schedule times to give them a call or message regularly. This will help you stay in contact with the people you care about, even if you can’t see them in person.
Consider joining a virtual group that promotes socializing. Have a loved one or friend help you navigate the online group so that you can enjoy meeting new friends in your community while socially distancing.
8. Try something new, or something old
Now could be a great time to try a new hobby, such as painting, writing, or cooking. It’s never too late to learn something new, and there are plenty of resources online and in the community to help you get started.
You might also think about picking up an old hobby that you haven’t done in a while. Think about the things that made you happy in the past and consider re-visiting them.
No matter what you choose as your New Year’s resolution, be sure that it’s something that helps you stay healthy and happy. We don’t know what 2021 has in store, but we do know that we are in this together and can find creative ways to enjoy this new way of life.