It’s Not too Late to Make New Year’s Resolutions for 2016!

A new year means a new start. So, it’s never too late to make changes that can improve your physical and mental well-being. Whether it’s about adding extra fruits and vegetables to your diet or taking a walk around the block, there are a lot of ways for seniors to commit to leading a healthier lifestyle. Below are a few suggestions to help you get going on the right track.

  1. Improve your diet. Eating nutritious food is extremely important to your health and longevity, but it’s hard to make dramatic changes all at once. Try slowly introducing more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains to your diet. If eating greens is not your favorite thing, then consider whipping up a smoothie with sweet fruit, like strawberries and bananas, which will mask the taste of added greens, such as kale or spinach. The USDA’s MyPlate website page for older adults and your healthcare provider can assist you in making good dietary choices.
  1. Take a multivitamin. If you’re not already doing so, consider taking a multivitamin every day, and check the bottle to make sure it includes 100 percent of the “daily value” for most vitamins and minerals.
  1. Be active. Experts recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week. But that doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon! Physical activity should be safe and healthy for seniors – even if you have heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis. In fact, many of these conditions will improve with mild to moderate physical exercise. Some options to consider include: tai chi, water aerobics, and walking. Not only can these activities help you control your weight and build muscle, they can also strengthen bones, improve balance and posture, and make you feel better.
  1. Give your brain a workout. While it’s important to exercise your body, giving your mind a workout is just as crucial. Try doing crossword puzzles, Sudoku, playing cards, or reading a book. Or consider taking a course at your local community college, where they often offer free classes for adults 65 and over. Joining a local library or seniors group is another option, and gives you the added benefit of socializing with others.
  1. See your doctor. It’s highly recommended that seniors get an annual physical exam. This also is a good time to review your current medications with your healthcare provider and to discuss the following items: immunizations/shots; screening tests for vision, hearing, osteoporosis; mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety; and suggested follow-ups with specialists for current health conditions/ illnesses.
  1. Guard against falls. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that millions of older adults fall each year, and, of those, 700,000 are hospitalized for serious medical problems such as head injuries and hip fractures. Consider tai chi, gentle yoga, or working out with an elastic band to help increase your strength, flexibility, and balance. And, ask your healthcare provider to make sure you’re not taking any medication that might make you more likely to fall. At home, get rid of any items that are easy to trip on, especially throw rugs. You might also want to consider adding grab bars to your bathtub or shower as well as nightlights, which make it easier to see if you have to get up in the middle of the night.
  1. Stay connected with friends and family. Visiting with nearby friends and family that are close by is wonderful, but you can also stay in touch by sharing messages and pictures with those who might not live as close to home via email and social media platforms like Facebook. There are smartphone applications like Viber that enable you to call people regardless of where they live. In addition, scheduling a Skype session is also a wonderful way to stay in touch with family and friends.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016 from The Nathaniel Witherell!

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