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Happy New Year!

I’ve heard 2020 called an Unprecedented Time, a Crazy Year, a Crazy New Normal, we may have said to ourselves, “Sweet gingerbread, what else can possibly go wrong?” But through it all, we have shown that in difficult circumstances, we can bravely carry on. We are now at the beginning of a new year and it’s a great time to reflect on what we have learned and what we’d like to look forward to. How many of you like setting goals? How about if I call them New Year’s Resolutions, do you set and follow those for any length of time? I personally hear the terms “Goals” and “New Years Resolutions” and cringe. But I am all about Checklists! I make checklists for everything from groceries, and cleaning, to my “To Do Lists” for me and my family. I also write checklists for items that I want/need to do in the near and far future. Whatever you like to call them creating resolutions, setting goals, or making checklists, they will give you a sense of purpose in your life. As a result, you will be more likely to have greater health literacy, and less likely to develop depression, senior isolation and loneliness, and Alzheimer’s, as compared to others without New Year’s resolutions.

Getting started on making resolutions may feel a bit overwhelming if you haven’t attempted it in a while. Try setting goals in 3 basic categories; First: Create a place of security, Second: Prepare your mind and body, and Third: Never stop preparing. You can be as broad or in-depth as you wish with your goals until you find what works best for you. Below are a few ideas in each category.

Create Places of Security

* Explore senior living options: whether you are still living in your own home or in an assisted living facility, etc. make sure you stop and ponder if your living arrangements are keeping you safe, healthy and happy.

* Spend more time with your children, grandchildren and friends, and make new friends. Social engagement and participation are especially important for older adults. These are linked to better cognition and overall health, and lower risk of depression and disability, reports Statistics Canada.

* Share memories. You’ve lived a great life. Reliving those memories can lift your spirits and others’. Capture those memories in a more lasting way by making audio or video recordings on your cell phone, tablet or laptop. Maybe even engage your grandchildren or nieces and nephews in helping you. If writing is more your style, start a journal of your favorite memories or important facts and dates you want your family to know about. Feeling crafty? Make a scrapbook. 

* Share a good laugh. Humor, or a smile, can make you feel good even in difficult times. Laughter also strengthens your immune system, lifts mood, eases pain and lowers stress, says Harvard Health.

* Explore new volunteer opportunities, help other people. Research reveals volunteering improves health by reducing stress and depression risk, and keeping you physically, mentally and socially active. It also may help you live longer, reports Mayo Clinic.

* Speak up when you feel down or anxious. About 1 in 5 older adults suffers from depression or anxiety. Some possible signs of depression can be lingering sadness, tiredness, loss of appetite or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed. You may also have difficulty sleeping, worry, irritability, and wanting to be alone. If you have any of these signs for more than two weeks, talk to your healthcare provider and reach out to friends and family.

* Get enough sleep. Older adults need less sleep than younger people, right? Wrong! Older people need just as much — at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Avoid daytime naps, which can keep you up in the evening. Visit the National Sleep Foundation’s website for more tips on how to sleep better.

* Forgive the people in your life who deserve it. Grudges, slights and old scores weigh us down. Forgiveness makes us lighter and happier. This year, choose one person and work to let them off the hook. Then make the same commitment to yourself. “Take stock of who you are, and remember you’re a better person than you give yourself credit for,” says Ralph Higgins, a retired ship captain in San Francisco. “Understand that and internalize it. Too often we taunt ourselves with, ‘If only I had…’ and ‘If only I hadn’t….’ You don’t have to do that anymore.”

Prepare Your Mind and Body

 * Try a new hobby/stimulate your mind. Challenging your brain to learn something new through a university or community class, book or movie club, or photography group, helps keep your brain healthy, says Dalhousie University. Lifelong learning helps build cognitive reserve, the brain’s resilience and ability to cope with stress and challenges.

* Engage in the arts. Participating in the arts through music, painting, writing, dance or theatre can stimulate people in unique ways that bring cognitive and mood benefits, according to McMaster University.

* Learn how to use the latest technology. Ask your grandchild or someone you love and trust to teach you about a few safe apps, or how to make or use GIFs or other fun new technology. Have them teach you how to protect yourself while using all this new technology. It can be a great way to make sure they also know how to stay safe while online, and a fun way to stay connected with your family and friends even while apart.

*  Eat more nutrient-dense foods. You need fewer calories with aging, but just as many nutrients. Eat more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood, lean meats and poultry, beans, nuts, and seeds. Also consider consuming less sugar-sweetened drinks and desserts, white bread and pasta made from refined grains, advises the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

* Do a variety of physical activities. Older adults can benefit from doing four types of activity regularly. These include aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming, for endurance; and activities to strengthen muscles, improve balance and increase flexibility, says NIH. Doing yoga, for example, combines balance, flexibility and strengthening.

Sudoku, quizzes, crossword or jigsaw puzzles will improve mental strength, which can improve memory. Physical challenges enable you to gradually improve things like balance, endurance, strength, flexibility and overall health. Talk to your doctor about physical activity that’s right for you, set a goal and then work with her or him to devise a plan to gradually and safely increase it.

* Think positively. Studies show that a positive attitude has been linked to faster and better recovery from injury or disability, lower risk of chronic disease and memory loss, less isolation and loneliness, and handling stress better without ignoring difficulties, according to Dalhousie University.

Never Stop Preparing

* Schedule your health check up appointment. It’s not always fun growing older and having so many aches and pains. But keeping your regular health check ups can help you stick around longer with the ones you love most.

* Reconsider using vitamins or nutrition supplements. As many older adults do not need them. Consult your healthcare provider if you have any issues or concerns about your nutrition.

* Create or update your legal documents. You have worked so hard your whole life, now is the time to set up how you would like to protect and use your worldly goods to best help you and your family in the future. 

* De-clutter. We can amass a lot of stuff over a lifetime. Holding on to some of it makes sense because it increases your quality of life and reminds you of happy times and great experiences. But there’s likely a lot of stuff that you don’t need, and that your children may not want. Commit to begin divesting yourself of items that don’t have special meaning, and to organizing what you do keep. That will make it easier for you day-to-day, and for your children later.

* Revisit your old resolutions. Go back and look at some of the things you’ve resolved in the past, and ask yourself if they’re still necessary. Give yourself permission to repeal the ones that aren’t. Sometimes we hold ourselves to strict standards that quite frankly have outlived their usefulness. 

The challenging part is not about making the resolutions but sticking it out and achieving them, there may be challenges and struggles but do not give up. To help you achieve these resolutions, focus on their array of benefits, and discover your motivation to help you achieve your feats and celebrate with great feasts. Share resolutions with your family. You can efficiently work together with your family to partake in important decisions, create resolutions together, and be proud of your achievements towards improved self-awareness. Since your family understands you well, they can help you brainstorm practical resolutions that best fit your lifestyle and tendencies.

Remember, while your biological age may make you an old person. Your positive attitude to learn new things keeps you young at heart. Happy new year resolutions to you!

 

Information for this article was taken in part from:

https://baxterseniorliving.com/7-new-years-resolutions-seniors/

https://chartwell.com/en/blog/2019/01/8-healthy-new-year%E2%80%99s-resolutions-for-older-adults

https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/tip-sheet-top-10-healthy-new-years-resolutions-older-adults

https://www.lifeline.philips.com/resources/blog/2017/12/12-new-year-resolutions-for-seniors.html

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