It’s new year’s resolution time! If you’re approaching your second innings in life, there are plenty of steps you can put in place to ensure quality of life into old age. Committing to some of these resolutions will lead to a happier and healthier old age – and isn’t that something we all want?
Stimulate your brain
It really is a case of use it or lose it! Memory loss is common as you age, but it’s not something you just have to put up with. The more you use your brain, and the more you challenge it with different activities, the better it will function. There are plenty of ways to keep your brain nimble, elastic and active, including learning new things, doing puzzles, reading or socialising. But you need to actively do something to stimulate your brain, so choose an activity and make it a regular part of your routine.
Get more exercise
Exercise really is medicine, and is safe for any age, no matter how old you are. An adequate amount of exercise can help reduce your weight, build bone and muscle strength and improve your posture and balance, as well as your mood and mental health. As well, many health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis, actually improve with mild to moderate exercise. Adding movement to your daily regime is a great way to improve your health, so find a way to regularly participate in some form of exercise that you enjoy.
Ensure a good nutrient intake
The importance of good nutrition cannot be overstated, and it’s an area where many of us fall down. The older you get, the more healthily you need to eat; however, most of us do the exact opposite. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of letting yourself go as you get older; but it’s a slippery slope. Poor nutrition and over-consumption of fat and sugar not only affects the numbers on the scales, it also affects your health. Many conditions and diseases are linked with poor eating habits, and could be largely avoided by making healthy food choices. Resolve to eat more fruits, vegetables, fibre-rich whole grains, fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy. Use healthier fats to cook (olive and canola oils instead of butter), and add flavour to food with herbs and spices, rather than salt or fat. As well, consider a multivitamin if your doctor thinks it’s a good idea.
Catch up with your doctor
Speaking of doctors, your GP needs to become a regular on your list of scheduled visits. Too many of us only visit the doctor when we’re sick, but it’s far wiser to book an annual check-up with your health-care provider to discuss any changes or symptoms you’re experiencing and any screenings you should be having. While health checks may not be the most appealing idea, the alternative is not to have them – and the results of that could be devastating. If it’s been a while, resolve to book an appointment with your GP or health care provider, and check in about how your health is tracking as you age.
If you smoke, there’s no better time to give up than now. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still reverse many of the negative effects of smoking by quitting. As well, you’ll be able to breath more easily, sleep better and will have more energy – plus, you’ll look younger!
Cut down or quit drinking alcohol
Similarly, drinking alcohol does you no favours, and is one of the quickest ways to reduce your lifespan. Excessive drinking can lead to heart attack, stroke, cancer, memory loss and brain damage. As well, it can lead to depression, sleeping problems, poor circulation and liver damage. But it’s never too late to reduce your alcohol consumption – your body will certainly thank you!
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is the wonder drug that helps keep us more youthful, positive, energetic, focussed and happy. And despite the myth that older people need less sleep than younger ones, they actually benefit from the 7 – 8 hours per night that younger people also need. It’s best to avoid napping in the daytime where possible, as this can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Resolve to makeover your sleep habits and prioritise a good night’s sleep – it’s something we can all get better at.
For more on how to get a better night’s sleep as you age, read this handy article.
Periodically try something new
It’s all too easy to slip into a rut as you age, and just do the familiar and comfortable things that you’ve always done. This is a mistake, as learning and doing new things is great for your brain health and helps keep you young. Routines are fine, but ruts are never a good thing, and it never hurts to try something new. You may even enjoy it! It will give you a sense of accomplishment, increased confidence and the ability to explore your hidden potential.
Embrace your passions
What did you used to be passionate about when you were younger? Find a way to incorporate that into your life in whatever way you can. It will lead to a greater sense of purpose, enjoyment and fulfillment.
Think of the positive every day
It makes a big difference to your feelings of wellbeing to change your attitude from negative to positive. Resolve to spend a few minutes each day thinking of the positives in your life and listing things you are grateful for. Keeping a gratitude journal might help you reduce stress, increase positivity and improve self-esteem.
Stay connected and make new friends
Socialising is hugely important for good health as you age, and can add meaning and purpose to your life. Loneliness and depression are the scourge of old age, and can have significant negative impacts on your health. Make sure you stay in touch with old friends, as well as looking to make new friends (taking up new hobbies and learning new things will help with this). Spend more time with the grandkids and your family, and prioritise connections. There are many ways to connect these days, so there’s no excuse to allow loneliness to creep in.
Add humour moments to your day
Look for opportunities to add laughter to your day. Laughter is great for your physical and mental health and wellbeing, and gives you a better and more positive outlook on life. It also helps alleviate stress, as well as improving immunity and relaxation.
Help someone else
There’s no better way to get your mind off your own problems than to help someone else with theirs. Volunteering is a great way to give back to society, and can often be done in an area you are passionate about. Plus, it taps into many of the good habits you need as you get older, such as socialising and learning new things.
Revisit your bucket list
Got a bucket list? You might feel like it’s too late to achieve all the things on your list, but it can be inspiring to revisit what you previously felt was important. Sure, there may be some things on the list that are no longer feasible, but chances are there’s some items on there that are actually still achievable. If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, find a way to make it happen.
Improve your balance
Balance becomes increasingly important as we age, and it’s never too early to start working on your balance. One in three older people experiences a fall each year, leading to injuries and sometimes even death, so balance is something you need to ensure you don’t lose. Consult an exercise physiologist or your doctor to learn exercises you can do to improve your balance, or conduct a quick Google search online. Also check with your doctor than any medications you are taking don’t interfere with your balance.
Make a will
Perhaps not the most exciting task, but necessary to ensure everything is done as you wish after you go. Determine to get this task done and out of the way, as this will give you a great deal of peace of mind.
Get your aged care plan in place
Similarly, it’s never too early to plan for your aged care. Having a plan in place before you need it will ensure you have control over what happens to you, and can avoid the stress and chaos then often ensues when a crisis occurs and people are unprepared.
Click here to read more about why you should start aged care planning early.
Preserve family history
This year, make a resolution to ensure all the family history you have, be that physical history or memories, is preserved for future generations. Consider making a time capsule, updating your photo albums or writing down or recording personal or family history. This is a great legacy to leave for your descendants, and you’ll probably enjoy the walk down memory lane too.