Setting Goals: New Year’s Resolutions for Older Adults

It’s the start of a new year, and a time to appreciate the things we already have, and to find new ways to live fuller, happier lives.

So, what will your New Year’s resolution be this year?

January is a great time to turn over a new leaf. To help older adults set this 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, 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, 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 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? Knowing how to prevent falls can help you avoid hospital visits and 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 if someone in your home struggles with balance.

5. Exercise your mind

Since it’s cold outside this season, 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 older adults.

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

Cold weather and the pandemic have changed the way we think about gathering and may have made life more isolated. If you’re an older adult who is feeling lonely, make it a New Year’s goal to be more social.

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, message, or get together with. 

Consider joining a virtual or in-person 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. Or, as restrictions have lifted and you feel comfortable, check online for in-person groups to be a part of that share a common interest.

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. Finding creative, new ways to enjoy life is fun and exciting!

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