By John Friia
As another year comes to an end, many seniors want to start the next one off right, and making their annual resolutions is a step in the right direction. For many people, their efforts to fulfill their resolutions only last a few days into the New Year, but achieving goals can leave the individual feeling renewed and confident.
Aging expert Dr. Barbara Nicklas explained that if you’re of a certain age and thinking about a New Year’s resolution, she recommends beginning or increasing your level of physical activity in some way.
Seniors need to ensure that they remain healthy and active during 2013. Simple activities, such as physical and mental exercising, can lead to feeling better. In addition, adults should consume more fresh food, visit the doctor regularly and make sure that their home is safe in the event of a fall.
Setting unrealistic goals, unplanned setbacks or having resolutions that were not that important are some of the reasons that people lose interest in keeping their New Year’s resolutions.
When older adults make resolutions, Nicklas explained, they “may experience more frequent setbacks and barriers—but being able to set manageable and realistic goals is important.” She encourages seniors to separate the goals into short-term, which are daily goals, and long-term, which are monthly goals.
Nicklas suggested a few things that active seniors can do in 2013. Joining an exercise class that is geared toward seniors will increase social contact and accountability. Seniors should find ways to increase movement throughout daily life, such as walking up and down a flight of stairs daily, or standing while talking on the phone. She also recommends starting a walking program that will increase endurance. Seniors can start by walking as long as they can without feeling pain and then add 30 seconds or a minute to that every day. These basic steps can lead to more social interaction and healthier life in 2013. Nicklas explained that physical activity is one of the main things that helps preserve body functions during aging.
“Older adults can benefit from resolving to make small changes in one or two lifestyle behaviors that are known to enhance well-being,” Nicklas stated.
Gwen Weiss, author of Extraordinary Centenarians in America, explained that while researching her book she met many inspirational seniors. “They demonstrated to me that long life could mean a healthy, enjoyable life surrounded by friends, loved ones, regular activities and purpose,” Weiss said.
She also explained the importance for seniors of creating realistic resolutions. “Doing this will help motivate them to create some structure in their lives as they age. This helps keep their minds keen and alert and can also keep them connected with other people to stave off loneliness. These are key factors that contribute to vibrant longevity,” Weiss said.
Creating and following through with resolutions will lead seniors down a path for a successful and healthy year in 2013, and many more to come.
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