9 Proven New Year's Resolutions for Healthy Aging

9 Proven New Year's Resolutions for Healthy Aging

Happy New Year! The new year is a great time for older Americans to take stock of their lives and consider how they can live healthier and happier – or as the saying goes, “Add years to your life and life to your years!”

Says Susan Irrgang, RN, LNHA, Executive Director at Saunders House, “There are a variety of senior health and healthy aging tips you can implement immediately to put yourself on the path to better health and a more satisfying life. We follow these guidelines for the health and well-being of our residents here at Saunders House, and they can be highly beneficial to all aging adults. 

“While health tips for seniors abound, we’ve found that some of the most useful and credible resolutions for healthy aging come directly from the experts in senior health at the American Geriatrics Society's Health in Aging Foundation.”

9 Resolutions for a Healthier You in the New Year

Commenting on the value of healthy lifestyle choices, Walter Willett, chairman of the Nutrition department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston says, “We can prevent about 80 percent of heart disease, about 90 percent of diabetes, and about 70 percent of strokes if we make the right food choices, get physical activity and don't smoke.” 

The following healthy aging tips for the New Year, provided by the American Geriatric Society’s website, HealthinAging.org,can help you to get healthier and feel better in the new year and for many more years to come. 

1. Be active and watch your weight – Staying physically activeis very important for healthy aging. And itcan be safe and healthy for older adults, even if you have heart disease, diabetes or arthritis. In fact, healthy aging experts say that many of these conditions can improve with the appropriate amount of exercise. Activities such as yoga, Tai chi, walking and stretching can also help to control your weight, build your muscles and bones, improve your balance, and improve your mood. 

2. Give your brain a workoutExercising your brain has been shown to help maintain your mental sharpness as you age while also significantly reducing your chances of cognitive decline. The more you use your mind, the better it works!  According to the Alzheimer’s Association®,there are many simple activities you can incorporate into your daily life that will promote brain health and keep your mind sharp as you age.

3. Stop smoking – Tobacco use is the number one cause of death in America and cigarette smokers are twice as likely to develop heart disease as non-smokers. By quitting, you can reduce your risk of many health problems, breathe easier, have more energy and sleep better. To help you stop smoking, you can access the National Cancer Institute’s website for resources.

4. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetablesAs we age,we need healthy, nutritious foods, but fewer calories. To help you make the right dietary choices, talk to your healthcare provider and review the USDA’s Choose MyPlate program. Nutrition experts in healthy aging say to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. You can also consult your health care provider about any nutrition issues that might require over-the-counter vitamins or nutrition supplements.

5.  Protect yourself against falls –Falls are the leading cause of serious injury and death for senior adults age 65 and over with one in every three older adults suffering a fall each year.  You can reduce your risk of falls by walking or working out with an elastic band to increase your strength, balance and flexibility. Also, ask your health care provider to make sure you’re not taking any medications that can make you more likely to fall. You should eliminate items in your home that are easy to trip over, like throw rugs. Insert grab bars in your bathtub or shower and install night lights so it’s easier to see at night. 

6.  Limit your alcohol intakeHealthy aging experts advise that excessive drinking can make you feel depressed, increase your chances of falling, cause trouble sleeping, interact with your medications and can contribute to other health problems. To avoid overdoing it, they recommend the following limits: for older men, 14 drinks per week, and for older women, seven per week. To help you monitor your intake, they suggest that one drink = 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of hard liquor. 

7.  Socialize with others – Gerontologists and other experts on aging say that connecting with others who share similar interests is important at any age. However, for older adults whose lifestyles may lessen their social engagement opportunities, these connections are crucial to healthy physical and emotional well-being. Therefore, seek the company of others to take walks, go out to lunch, go shopping, take day trips and participate in other activities you enjoy. Volunteering can also be a rewarding way to stay connected with others.

Conversely, isolation can be a serious threat to the mental and physical health of older adults and has been linked with depression and even earlier death according to an article in USA Today titled, “Feeling lonely? It may increase risk of early death.” Living alone can limit socialization opportunities and frequently lead to more rapid physical and emotional decline.

8.  Get enough sleep – Getting sufficient sleep is one of the most important yet underrated factors in promoting healthy aging. Older Americans need at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night to support good physical and emotional health. To help you get a good night’s sleep, avoid daytime naps, which can keep you up in the evening. To find more tips on how to sleep better, you can visit the National Sleep Foundation website.

9. See your health care provider regularly – Last but certainly not least, be sure to schedule your annual Medicare wellness visit with your health care provider to discuss your health status and the appropriateness of any health screenings for conditions such as breast cancer, colon cancer or osteoporosis. Also, talk to your provider about getting shots for flu, pneumonia and shingles as well as discussing the medications you’re taking, and whether or not you still need them.  

Susan adds, “Have a wonderful New Year and be sure to include these valuable healthy aging tips in your resolutions to make 2019 a healthy and happy one!” 

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have as well as to stay current on a variety of other senior health and care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website. 

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts! 

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “9 Proven New Year's Resolutions for Healthy Aging,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness 

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue. 

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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