Ten Healthy Aging Resolutions for 2010
The holidays are over! If you are like most of us, a bit of overindulgence went along with the holiday cheer. But now the eggnog, fruitcake, pies and candy canes have all been consumed, and life is getting back to normal.
The New Year is the traditional time when many of us are motivated to make positive changes in our lives. Why not add a few resolutions that can impact your health and well-being through the New Year and beyond? During 2009, research institutions from around the world released new studies shedding light on factors that encourage optimum aging. Take advantage of this information as you make your list, and share these ideas with senior loved ones.
Resolution #1: Add at least 10% more physical activity to your daily routine. Simply speaking, exercise has a positive effect on virtually every body system. No matter what your health status, there is some form of exercise you can do. And what about a balance training class? Speak to your healthcare provider about an exercise program that is right for you.
Resolution #2: Read food labels. Look for "heart smart" foods that are rich in nutrients and fiber. Avoid foods with saturated fat and trans fat. Look for foods labeled "low sodium" or "reduced sodium."
Resolution #3: Learn a new skill. With advanced brain imagery techniques, neurologists can now actually see that mental stimulation encourages new connections between brain cells. And activities that stimulate the brain in a new way are especially effective. Take a language class, try a new instrument, or improve your computer skills. It's never too late to learn. (See "Digital Aging" in this issue of Caring Right at Home to learn more about how computer use supports brain health.)
Resolution #4: Discover a great new walking path. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, but we can lose motivation and become bored with our same old routine. Check out local parks, neighborhoods, even shopping malls when the weather is bad. And invest in a pair of good quality walking shoes.
Resolution #5: Ask your doctor about the shingles vaccine. This new immunization was recently approved for older adults. It can help seniors avoid this often painful, sometimes debilitating condition. And be sure your other immunizations are up to date, as well.
Resolution #6: Plant a vegetable garden. What a nice way to get some exercise and add nutritious veggies to your menu! A container garden or windowsill herbs can also yield a nutrient-rich "crop." Or, check out local farmers markets for fresh, locally grown produce…and perhaps a flower bouquet for a mood boost?
Resolution #7: Watch a funny movie. A new round of studies this year confirms that laughter is good for the heart and immune system, relieves depression, and is a great social "icebreaker." Your public library probably has a good collection of comedy films that you can borrow at no cost—or check out the latest offerings on YouTube.
Resolution #8: Take a fall prevention tour of your house. Look for situations and conditions that could be hazardous as you move from place to place. Removing clutter and fixing unsafe conditions help older adults avoid falls and live more confidently. Need a little guidance? Search for "home safety" in the Caring Right at Home archive list at the top right of this screen.
Resolution #9: Ask your doctor to review your medications. During your next appointment, arrange in advance to bring in a list of all drugs you take, both prescription and over-the-counter. (Some healthcare providers suggest bringing along the containers.) Ask about side effects, possible interactions, and whether switching to a generic might save you money.
Resolution #10: Spend more time with other people. As the old summer camp song goes, "Make new friends and keep the old/One is silver and the other gold." Recent research confirms that relationships with others promotes brain health and a stronger immune system, improves mood, and offers a host of other benefits.
No matter what your age and health condition, taking positive steps to follow healthy aging guidelines can pay off and help you have a happy new year!
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