January 1st, 2020
The words “New Year’s resolutions” usually conjure up images of the younger generation, who eagerly set goals for themselves for the coming year. But studies have shown that setting resolutions can also have practical value for older people (or, as we like to say, “the young at heart”), because forward-thinking can have a positive impact on seniors’ overall health.
At the very least, resolutions provide us with goals and purpose in our lives. Purpose not only provides a framework for self-discipline, but it’s been shown that highly organized people are less susceptible to Alzheimer’s. And research has also concluded that older adults with a solid sense of purpose tend to retain strong hand grips and walking speeds – key indicators of how rapidly people are aging.
Additionally, writing down our thoughts and desires can make a big difference in our general outlook on life. It’s a way to enter the year with an upbeat and positive attitude, and when that positivity translates into enthusiasm and contentment, the risk of certain ailments like heart disease can be lowered.
SHARING WITH THE CARING
Sharing resolutions with a caregiver or loved one means you can work together to realize them. Case in point: some families know their parents or older loved one’s stories quite well. Many do not. And often, it’s because no one has taken the time to ask them about their lives or encouraged them to keep a journal. Think about recording your favorite senior or using other means to preserve memories of your loved one for future generations. There are even places that will interview loved ones and write the story for you.
The making of a family tree can also provide an opportunity to reminisce and teach you about the lives of family members you may not have known much about. Consider the many DNA kits that are available, or create a family time capsule for your descendants to open in the distant future. Or how about a joint cookbook project? It’s great both for bonding and for preserving family cooking traditions.
TIPS FOR PRACTICAL RESOLUTIONS
For starters, make your home safer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65 falls each year. Many of these falls are preventable.
Here’s how to make a senior’s home safer:
Following these senior safety guidelines will help you keep key areas of the house, such as the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and outside, secure.
Finally, a new year is the perfect time for assessing (or reassessing) one’s health. At the start of the year, set up a schedule of doctor visits. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, get one. And, even though many of us break our diet and exercise resolutions, it’s even more important as you age to at least try to keep up with a healthy new regimen.
Along with physical health goals, don’t forget your mental state. It is common for seniors to deal with loneliness and depression, so a good lesson for all of us, whether it’s a new year or not, is to make new friends! Planning more activities with others can result in new companionship – and also fun new skills and hobbies!