New Year, New You: Healthy Resolutions for Seniors
As we age, it becomes increasingly important to prioritize our health and wellness. This means taking care of our bodies through exercise, healthy eating habits, and regular check-ups with our doctors. It also means prioritizing our mental health by finding ways to manage stress and practicing self-care. If you’re considering making changes to improve your health and wellness, the start of a new year is the perfect time to set goals and make resolutions that will improve your quality of life and help you maintain independence for years to come.
Here are a few ways seniors can resolve to get healthier in 2024:
Get Moving: Exercise is essential for maintaining physical and mental health. Seniors can aim to incorporate low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or yoga into their daily routine. Setting a goal to exercise for 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week can improve strength, balance, and flexibility. Exercise can also help to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, as well as improve mental health and well being.
In addition, strength training exercises such as weightlifting or resistance bands can increase muscle mass and improve bone density, reducing the risk of injury and improving overall physical function. Balance exercises, such as standing on one leg or walking heel-to-toe, can help to prevent falls and improve stability. Finally, flexibility exercises such as stretching can improve range of motion, reducing the risk of injury and improving overall mobility.
Eat Well: A balanced diet is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, keeping energy levels up, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. It is beneficial for seniors to consume more nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoiding processed and sugary foods can also improve overall health.
However, eating well doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite foods. It’s important to enjoy the foods you love in moderation and find healthier alternatives when possible. Making small changes to your diet, such as swapping out sugary drinks for water or adding more vegetables to your meals, can make a big difference in your overall health.
Stay Social: Socializing is an essential part of human interaction and can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being. In today’s fast-paced world, it can be easy to isolate oneself and rely on technology for social connections. However, face-to-face interactions with others can provide a sense of support, belonging, and community that cannot be replicated through virtual communication.
Even if socializing doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s important to make an effort to connect with others. Consider joining a club or organization that interests you, volunteering in your community, or attending social events. These activities can help you meet new people and develop meaningful relationships.
Remember that socializing doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. Simple acts of kindness, like striking up a conversation with a stranger or reaching out to an old friend, can go a long way in fostering connections with others.
Prioritize Sleep: Sleep is often undervalued in today’s busy world, but getting enough sleep is important for cognitive function, mood, and overall health. It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but many of us fall short of this goal. Prioritizing sleep can help improve our overall quality of life by improving memory, boosting mood, and even aiding in weight management.
If you struggle with getting enough sleep, there are several strategies you can try to improve your sleep habits. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoiding screens before bed are just a few examples.
Get Regular Check-ups: One of the most important steps seniors can take to maintain good health is to get regular check-ups. Even if you feel perfectly healthy, it’s important to have a trained medical professional examine you and perform any necessary tests to ensure that there aren’t any underlying health issues that you may not know about. Additionally, check-ups provide an opportunity to discuss any health concerns or questions you may have with your healthcare provider.
While you are at your check-up, it’s important to take advantage of preventive screenings and vaccines, such as the flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine. These vaccines are especially important for individuals who are at higher risk of developing complications from these illnesses, such as seniors and those with compromised immune systems. By getting vaccinated, we not only protect ourselves but also those around us who may not be able to receive vaccines for medical reasons.
By adopting these healthy resolutions, seniors can improve their physical and mental health, maintain independence, and enjoy a better quality of life in the year ahead.
Dr. Ken Sebastianelli has served as Medical Director for Elan Skilled Nursing and Rehab, a Jewish Senior Life Community, since 2012. Dr. Sebastianelli is a board-certified Internal Medicine practitioner with Prime Med Medical Group, and is affiliated with Geisinger Community Medical Center and Moses Taylor Hospital. He is also a member of the Medical Executive Committee at Geisinger Community Medical Center.