The past year presented us with many challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted plans and goals set in 2020 – whether it was getting in shape or making more time for family. However, the start of a new year is a perfect opportunity for older adults and caregivers to hit reset and resolve to make commitments that promote healthy aging.
New Year’s resolutions can range from exploring new hobbies to making healthy changes, and older adults can take part in this yearly tradition to positively impact their overall well-being. “Now is the ideal time for older adults and family caregivers to work together to set goals and think about how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle in the year ahead,” said Lakelyn Hogan, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiver advocate. “It’s a great practice to reevaluate and commit to a resolution that will add value and happiness to your life. Anything from being more active to prioritizing relationships can improve overall mental and physical health.”
New Year’s resolutions are a great way to establish and maintain healthy habits. And the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle are many, including living a longer life, reducing stress and experiencing fewer health problems. Even more, making time to exercise can prevent memory loss, reduce chronic pain, improve flexibility and balance, and boost your immune system. With so many positive effects, it’s no surprise many older adults commit to staying active in the new year. In fact, according to a recent Finder survey, 47% of baby boomers plan to make a resolution this year – mostly focused on health and self-improvement.
Adding a health-related goal to an aging adult’s resolution list can help establish positive habits and kickstart the year off right. Not sure where to begin? Hogan recommends starting with one of the aging-friendly resolutions below.
5 Healthy Aging Resolutions for Older Adults and Caregivers
- Eat healthier: Feeling good as you age starts with a proper diet. Strive to incorporate healthy options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and healthy fats in every meal or snack. These foods are packed with nutrients to benefit your whole body. Consider eating with loved ones, even virtually, to help promote better eating habits. According to our research 65% of aging adult men and 56% of aging adult women feel they eat more nutritiously with others compared to eating alone. Making a point to enjoy regular meals together is an easy way for family caregivers to help their loved one stay on track. If you're concerned about dietary restrictions or finding foods to suit a diabetic diet, there are modifications to consider.
- Be more active: Activities such as aerobic exercise, walking or swimming, are great simple ways to get moving. Start small and build up slowly. This will allow your body time to adapt and provide opportunities to celebrate your progress throughout the year. If virtual classes are more your speed, try video workouts online or join a virtual fitness program to stay active while engaging with others.
- Prioritize relationships. It’s important to stay socially active and connected. Though it is discouraged to gather in person at this time because of COVID-19, staying socially engaged is possible and has been shown to keep the mind engaged. Use technology like video calls or social networks to maintain communication and regularly visit with friends and family.
- Stay mentally sharp. Mental health is just as important as staying physically fit. Consider doing daily activities that keep your mind sharp such as puzzles, trivia games, crosswords and more. To keep things fun, ask your loved ones to join in, or explore new games online.
- Embrace a new skill. Why not try something new? Consider learning more about a skill you’ve always wanted to pick up such as painting, poetry, mastering a new language or another passion. Dedicating a certain amount of time out of your day or a few hours a week to learning a new skill can lead to a sense of accomplishment.
Planning for the future and setting new goals can add excitement and provide a newfound purpose for older adults. Not only will an aging adult’s mind and body benefit from this commitment but setting and achieving personal goals boosts confidence and results in a better quality of life.