New Year’s Resolutions for Older Adults By: Laura Paredes-Oldaker

laura oldakerEveryone is talking about their New Year’s resolutions with hopeful thoughts that they will lead better lives. However, of the 48 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions; most never make it past the second month. Let’s see if we can do better…

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are of course to lose weight, spend less and save money. In this month’s article, we will talk about goals that older adults can set for themselves. Whether they are “New Year’s resolutions” or simple “attainable goals” these can help our older loved ones to lead a quality life.

  1. Eat more quality food: Experts recommend eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but a low percentage of people actually do this. By increasing the amount of quality meals we help deliver our body with more nutrients. Adding things like more fresh fruits / vegetables (spinach, collared greens, carrots, oranges, cantaloupes are especially nutritious) low fat meats like fish and chicken, especially tuna, salmon, and chicken breast are low in fat and are a good option for the heart.
  2. Quit Smoking (or cut down) and drink less: Try to limit your alcohol and tobacco consumption. Alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of falls among older adults and can also contribute to other health problems. Reducing the amount of smoking (or quitting all together) can help you breathe easier. Try the patch or other options. There’s an added bonus too. You can save approximately $3,000 a year! For help with quitting, visit www.quitsmoking.org.
  3. Take safe steps to avoid falls: Falls are one of the leading causes of injuries and death among older adults. It is estimated that 1 in every 3 older adults fall every year. This is a number that can easily be decreased with deliberate efforts to avoid falls. Take measures to eliminate “fall hazards” like rugs, and other items on the ground. Tripping over pets is also a common cause for falls. Place a bell around your furry one’s neck so you know where they are and won’t trip over them. Have grab bars installed, especially in the bathroom and the shower. It’s a great way to stay safe and avoid falls.
  4. See Your Doctor more regularly: You should have a physical at least once a year. When you visit with your doctor, make sure you discuss any of your concerns. When asked about your habits, be truthful and honest with your doctor. Update your medication list and notify your primary care physician as soon as a change is made. Make sure you ask about medications and drug interactions, as these are one of the leading causes of elderly hospitalizations.
  5. Exercise: Even individuals who aren’t able to go for a walk can exercise regularly, things like range of motion exercises can help stimulate circulation and tone muscle. Exercise also improves your balance and mood. Try to find yourself a “walking buddy”, someone who can help encourage you and keep you company. This can be your spouse, a neighbor, a caregiver, or a friend. Please make sure you discuss with your doctor if you plan on starting an exercise routine.
  6. Accept help: There are people around us who are willing to help if we just ask. Be it one of your children, or a neighbor, or a willing friend; please know it is okay to accept help. Sometimes trying to do it all ourselves can be cause for stress. Some of the most common ways people can help are: cooking a homemade meal every once in a while, running an errand or doing the grocery shopping, picking up the newspaper from the curbside and bringing it to you, taking the garbage bin out on trash day, set out medicine in the medicine boxes among other things. Remember that accepting help can allow you to save energy and focus on the things that you enjoy doing.

Whatever resolutions you set for 2015, please remember to keep them realistic and attainable. One of Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker, most famous quotes is “If you talk about it, it’s a dream…If you envision it, it’s possible…but if you schedule it, it’s real.” Wishing everyone a productive and wonderful new year!

Laura Paredes Oldaker is the founder and CEO of By Your Side Senior Care, a company that provides professional and family caregiver education, and care and services for the elderly.